NEW DELHI: With an aim to provide additional avenues for grievance redressal, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) on Monday released a new draft notification. Putting the onus on SSMIs (significant social media intermediaries), the draft also sets new accountability standards for big tech platforms.
Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar tweeted: “Putting Interests of Digital Nagriks First.
New amended IT (Intermediary) rules are out for Public consultn – more effectve grievance addressal n ensurng constitutional rights of ctzns r respected (sic).”
The note uploaded along with the draft amendments says the amended IT rules seek to provide additional avenues for grievance redressal, apart from the courts, and “also ensure that the Constitutional rights of Indian citizens are not contravened by any Big-tech Platform by ensuring new accountability standards for SSMIs (significant social media intermediaries)”.
It also highlighted that this will not impact early-stage or growth-stage Indian companies or startups.
“The goals of these rules are to ensure an Open, Safe & Trusted and Accountable Internet for all Indian Internet Users and Digital Nagriks,” the government said, adding that the existing rules have succeeded in creating a new sense of accountability amongst intermediaries to their users, especially within Big Tech platforms.
However, as the digital ecosystem and connected Internet users in India expand, so do the challenges and problems faced by them, as well as some of the infirmities and gaps that exist in the current rule vis-a-vis Big Tech platforms, it said. Therefore, new amendments have been proposed to the IT Rules 2021, to address these challenges and gaps…A formal public consultation meeting will be arranged by Mid-June, and the details will be notified soon, it further added.
Government sources told The New Indian that key features include creating a grievance cell to address public concerns, ensuring that the social media intermediaries (SMIs) cannot wash their hands off and making them accountable for the concerns of the public as well as asking them to give assurance about the action taken. The new draft also proposes to make social media intermediaries accountable for their users’ actions.
“There has been a slight change in the language. Earlier it was just guidance for the intermediaries to comply with it. Earlier when you signed up for social media, it was assumed that you knew what is right and what is wrong. Part of the social media intermediaries ended with informing,” the source said.
“Now, if anyone is flouting the rules, it is the problem of the social media intermediaries. They cannot wash off their hands easily. It is about making the social media intermediaries more responsible and more accountable. It is more about creating an accountable internet,” the source added.
“There has been an emphasis on setting up grievance redressal officials and explaining the decision taken by the social media intermediaries,” the source added.
Explaining that one of the key points is setting up a time to address any grievance, the source said, “Within 72 hours they have to acknowledge (about the grievance) it. This is to bring accountability to the intermediaries and a sense of mental satisfaction for the general public.”
“We also aim to make intermediaries address concerns within a timeline of 15 days. This is to ensure that concerns raised can be addressed within a reasonable time and not dragged endlessly,” the source added.