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Any self-regulatory body of intermediaries will have to work on the same mechanism as that of the GAC, a government official said.
The IT rules, 2021, require significant social media intermediaries (SSMIs) — platforms with more than 5 million users — appoint a resident grievance officer to decide on content-related complaints.
In the following public consultations on the amendment, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, minister of state for electronics and IT, said the government was open to the idea of self-regulating grievance redress by social media, as some SSMIs raised concern about the GAC.
The official said MeitY was working on the inputs it had received from social media intermediaries abroad.
He said questions on the inclusiveness of the self-regulatory body had prompted the government to go ahead with the GAC.
“The self-regulatory organisation (SRO) can cover only a few companies working from outside India. The SRO model, if implemented, will be only for a few social media platforms,” he said, adding, the SRO could co-exist only with the GAC model.
“Or else, there will be only the GAC and no SRO. We have given our proposal and we stick with it,” the officer said.
Chandrasekhar, in a recent media interaction, had said there would be multiple grievance appellate committees to deal with appeals of users against decisions of grievance officers of intermediaries.
The official said: “Legally there has to be the same option available to individuals against any intermediaries.”
The new developments have alarmed civil society groups.
Amol Kulkarni, director (research) at CUTS International, said there was a need for a balance in both SROs and the GAC. But, according to him, this can be a temporary arrangement until the government comes up with the new IT Act.
“We need to make sure that the industry does not become its own judge and similarly, the government is not pushing its agenda by sitting on top of the industry,” Kulkarni said.
“Furthermore, the SRO must ensure adequate representation from other relevant stakeholders, such as consumer groups, subject experts, and independent fact-checkers, to ensure it remains unbiased,” he said.
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First Published: Wed, August 10 2022. 19:36 IST