GS Paper - 3 (ITC)

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has published a fresh draft of amendments to the Information Technology Rules, 2021, which proposes the creation of government-appointed appeal committees that will be able to veto content-moderation decisions taken by social media intermediaries like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

What are the proposed amendments to the IT Rules, 2021?

  1. The draft proposes to create government-appointed appeal committees that will be empowered to review and possibly reverse content moderation decisions taken by social media companies.
  2. The Central Government shall constitute one or more Grievance Appellate Committees, which shall consist of a Chairperson and such other Members, as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint.
  3. What it essentially means is that in case a user is not satisfied with the content moderation decision taken by a company’s grievance officer, they can appeal that decision before the proposed government-appointed appeals committee.
  4. Every order passed by the Grievance Appellate Committee shall be complied with by the concerned intermediary. Currently, the only recourse a user has against companies’ content decisions is to approach the courts.
  5. Apart from this, the new proposal also suggests placing additional responsibilities on grievance officers appointed by social media companies.
  6. It says that if a user complains about content which is “patently false”, infringes copyright, and threatens the integrity of India, among other things, a grievance officer will have to expeditiously address it within 72 hours.
  7. Under current rules, grievance officers have 15 days to act on and dispose of users’ complaints.