The government had to introduce the idea of a grievance appeals board in its proposed 2021 amendments to the information technology rules – released on Monday – due to what the minister said was a lack of means for citizens to appeal the decisions of social media intermediaries. and other major technology platforms, currently.
“We believe that if the industry and these platforms come up with their own self-regulatory and self-repair appeal mechanism, we are open to it. Today there is nothing,” Chandrasekhar said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Furthermore, such an industry-led committee cannot replace courts and the legal system, but can only provide users with an additional avenue for resolving grievances, he noted.
The introduction of the appeal mechanism was part of the ‘natural justice’ process of the system, according to the minister who said: ‘there have been numerous reports and complaints that a letter is sent to the grievance officer, what they recognize but do nothing about.”
“This appeals jurisdiction issue only arises because some large technology platforms do not adhere to the spirit of the grievance manager and the grievance model that has been put in place in the IT rules,” did he declare.
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Admittedly, the proposed appeal board will only function as an additional avenue for users who are still free to go to court for redress. However, very few citizens are able to go to court because “it is an expensive process. There are lawyers involved, you have to spend money,” Chandrasekhar said pointing to the many cases already pending in the courts of the country.
“In a sense, the courts give the advantage to companies over citizens,” he added.
Despite the government’s assurances that there will be broad public consultation before the final rules are put in place, it has yet to appease several tech policy lobbies, some of which are also calling for the proposed changes to be withdrawn.
“MeitY will essentially be able to nominate itself to sit atop social media platforms and decide what millions of Indians can or cannot say on their Facebook or Twitter profiles. This is being done without any measure of transparency or accountability built into the rules,” the Internet Freedom Foundation, a technology and cybersecurity policy group, said in a statement on Twitter on Tuesday.
“For these (and several other reasons), we reiterate that @GoI_MeitY must withdraw the rules in their entirety. The proposed amendment does not address existing concerns,” he said.
Draft changes republished
Late Monday night, the IT Department republished a draft of proposed changes to the nation’s technology and social media regulations, which were first notified in February 2021 and come into force from May 2021.
He said the proposed changes aim to provide a “more effective grievance redress system” and address “infirmities and loopholes” in existing regulations.
The draft recommendations, which came a week after a similar proposal was withdrawn hours after it went live, aim to address the challenges posed by the expanding digital ecosystem as well as gaps in current regulations. , especially “vis-a-vis Big Technology Platform, the ministry said.
As well as being open to the idea of an industry-regulated mechanism, the ministry also believes that the new rules will be an “evolutionary process” and that the final form of the rules could be different from that notified by the ministry. .
Calling it “the start of public consultation,” Chandrasekhar told reporters the center was open to suggestions from industry, users and other bodies. “If anyone has a better idea or solution that meets the test of (ensuring) Indian users have responsibility (for) the platforms, we are open to that idea.”
“It’s not our priority to sit on top of a big tech platform and figure out if they’re doing their job or not,” he added.
The ministry gave all stakeholders 30 days to submit their views and suggestions for Monday’s draft recommendations.
It will also organize a physical stakeholder consultation by the second week of June and aims to finalize and publish the final version of the IT rules before July, the minister said.
First Shipper Tracking
In his interaction with reporters on Tuesday, Chandrasekhar reiterated the government’s position on tracking the first author on instant messaging platforms saying, “the government would never compromise on its position.”
“That will never change. The day you decide that as a platform you do not want to have a safe haven, you are responsible for all illegalities that occur on your platform. The first clause of origin of the IT rules is very specific that when a court order says to find out who is behind this crime, it must be done,” he said.
Chandrasekhar also said that the clause of the proposed amendments to the IT rules, which states that intermediaries must respect the rights guaranteed to an Indian citizen under the Constitution, was intended to protect the rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21.
For example, Article 14 comes into play in cases where users are removed from the platform without having the opportunity or opportunity to appeal. While Article 19 ensures that the platform cannot judge what content is inflated, muted or removed and Article 21 aims to ensure user privacy.