New information Technologies (IT) regulations impose a legal obligation on social media companies to make every effort to prevent prohibited content and misinformation, the government said on Saturday, making it clear that platforms operating in India will have to comply with local laws and constitutional rights of Indian users. The rules are adopted in response to complaints about the actions or inactions of intermediaries in response to user complaints about objectionable content or the suspension of their accounts.
Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technologies and Union Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajiv Chandrasekhar made it clear that under the new amendments, these platforms will not be able to suspend the account of any citizen without following a systematic process.
During a discussion about the rules on Twitter Space on October 29, the minister said that moderators cannot suspend or ban someone without sending a message and giving the account owner a chance to explain their position. Chandrasekhar said, “The process of natural justice, which is the core of the system in India, must be followed by every platform.”
But he clarified that this does not mean that social media companies cannot de-platform a person. “The future process will be far from the arbitrariness of today and not transparent. So, at the end of the process, if you don’t like it, you can go and appeal it to the Grievance Committee (GAC), and if you don’t like what the GAC does, you can also appeal it to the courts,” – said the minister.
“NO ACCIDENTAL CANCELLATION”
MoS Chandrasekar said the cancellation of accounts will not happen randomly because Article 14, Article 19 and Article 21 are now part of the IT Rules.
#Exclusive: “All that the Government of India is doing is to provide an open, secure, reliable and accountable Internet to all digital naagriks (citizens)”: Union Minister Rajiv Chandrasekhar (@Rajeev_GoI) speaks to News18’s @maryashakil
#Safety on the Internet #ITRules #Internet #India pic.twitter.com/mdMCf9VYZX
— News18 (@CNNnews18) October 29, 2022
Article 14 reads: “Equality before the law. The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. Prohibition of discrimination based on religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. »
Article 19 deals with the protection of certain rights of Indian citizens in respect of freedom of speech and others such as the right to practice any profession or engage in any occupation, trade or business.
In addition, Article 21 states: “Protection of life and personal liberty. No one may be deprived of life or personal liberty except in accordance with the procedure established by law.”
According to the Union Minister: “In the new rules, we have stipulated that no rights of citizens — Articles 14, 19 and 21 — can be violated by any platform.”
He said the platform must ensure that if a consumer is deplatformed, there are sufficient reasons for doing so by providing evidence that they are not discriminating or suppressing someone’s right to freedom of expression and not violating Articles 14, 19 and 21. “Platforms will now be it is very difficult to arbitrarily deplatform someone,” the minister stated.
Explaining the need for the GAC, he said: “One of the problems and frequent complaints of those using these platforms was that they have a problem but they don’t know who to turn to.”
He said it was quite “strange” that platforms that work with millions of people make no effort to be accountable to their consumers.
Chandrasekar said the government has asked these companies to appoint their own grievance redressal officers under the framework so that users can direct their concerns to the appropriate person.
“In the last 14 months, many of these platforms have just been appointed naam ke vaste someone took over as a grievance officer,” he said, adding that either the person became a “mail box” or they appointed a person who had “no interest” in handling grievances, or in the third case the matter was resolved in “unsatisfactory”.
Digital grievances/complaints of citizens will now never go unaddressed with amendments #Rules – an appeals committee for complaints was established @PMOIndia #IndiaTechade #DigitalIndia #NewIndia pic.twitter.com/5NLbAFZnCu
— Rajeev Chandrasekhar 🇮🇳 (@Rajeev_GoI) October 29, 2022
“Thus, the GAC emerged as a concept, as an appellate jurisdiction. If you are a user and you are not satisfied with the response you get from the platform, you have a way to approach the GAC,” the minister added.
He also called GAC the “digital sign” of the Internet.
On how this committee will function, Chandrasekhar said that if the referrals received are related to the IT sector and MeitY, the GAC will look into them and if the referrals are related to intellectual property, patients or e-commerce, it will refer them to the concerned area.
“I have promised that over the next 15 days we will lay out the architecture, design and key terms of reference of the GAC and discuss with the industry, engage them and then report back,” MoS Chandrasekhar noted.
The new amended IT rules are the next step towards fulfilling the responsibilities of the Govt #НичбавыйНагрики open, safe and reliable, accountable Internet
It also means a new partnership between government and intermediaries in keeping our internet safe and trustworthy for all Indians.#IndiaTechade #OSTA pic.twitter.com/COQhGOHv5D
— Rajeev Chandrasekhar 🇮🇳 (@Rajeev_GoI) October 28, 2022
During the discussion, the minister answered the question about the possibility of adopting a new law on IT. “The current rules are stepping stones to two new pieces of legislation that will be part of the overall framework. One of them is the Digital Data Protection Bill, which will be tabled very soon. The other is the Digital India Act, which will replace the IT Act 2000, a 22-year-old law, and in terms of the Internet, a 2,000-year-old law, so we need a modern law for India Techade, and we are working on it. Chandrasekhar said
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