India will set up one or more grievance committees to oversee content moderation decisions from social media companies, it said Friday, going ahead with a proposal that has rocked Meta, Google and Twitter in the key overseas market, but a proposal it deems necessary. .
in a change Against the country’s new IT law that came into effect last year, the Indian government said that anyone who is aggrieved by the complaints officer appointed by the social media can appeal to the Complaints Committee, which will consist of a chairperson and two full-time members appointed by the government. (In compliance with IT rules, social media companies appointed a complaints officer and other officials in India last year to hear feedback and complaints from their users.) The change will take effect Friday, a report said.
The Complaints Committee has the power to reverse the decision of the social media company, according to the government. Individuals may lodge their appeal within 30 days from the date of receipt of the Complaints Officer’s notice. The designated committees will also be required to “examine such appeal as a matter of urgency” and file a resolution within 30 days, the amendment said.
“Any order passed by the Complaints Committee will be followed by the relevant intermediary and a report to that effect will be uploaded on its website,” New Delhi said in a statement.
The latest IT law change also requires social media companies to recognize user complaints within 24 hours and deal with them within 15 days. If the request is to remove content in cases such as obscenity, pornography, patent infringement and violation of local laws, the complaint must be resolved within 72 hours, the amendment said.
Shortly after India proposed the creation of such panels, the US-India Business Council (USIBC), part of the US Chamber of Commerce, and the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), both expressed concern about the independence of such committees if the government were to control their formation. Both companies represent tech giants, including Google, Meta and Twitter.
The decision to form panels follows tensions between the Indian government and social media companies Meta and Twitter over the content and accounts they keep or delete. Twitter has been criticized from New Delhi for failing to block some tweets the Indian government found objectionable last year.
Twitter tagged a tweet from Sambit Patra, the spokesman for the Indian ruling party BJP, in May last year as ‘manipulated media’. Days later, a special team from the Delhi police investigating terrorism and other crimes paid a surprise visit to two Twitter offices in the country to seek information about Twitter’s motives for labeling Patra’s tweets as manipulated.
At the time, Twitter said it was “concerned about the recent events regarding our workers in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression to the people we serve,” and this year it has sued the Indian government for issuing some blocking orders on tweets. to fight. and bills.
Lawyers for Elon Musk, who owns Twitter as of today, have previously expressed concerns about Twitter’s lawsuit against the Indian government and said they are taking such a step. jeopardizes the company’s third-largest market.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Indian State Minister for Electronics and Information Technology, told Reuters on Friday that the government expects Twitter, which is owned by Musk, to adhere to the country’s IT rules.
“Our intermediary rules and laws remain the same regardless of who owns the platforms. So the expectation of compliance with Indian laws and regulations remains,” he told the outlet.
In an interview with londonbusinessblog.com on Saturday, Chandrasekhar said the panel that oversees social media decisions will not be driven by ideological views.
“It was clear that the accountability objective that [previous IT] had issued rules on complaints officers did not work. And that’s why we did the GAC,” he said.
The New Delhi-based advocacy group Internet Freedom Foundation said the Appeals Complaints Board is “essentially a government censorship body” that would handle appeals against social media platforms’ decisions to remove or not remove content, leaving “bureaucrats arbitrators of our online free speech.”
“This will incentivize platforms to remove/suppress any speech that is distasteful to the government or those who exert political pressure and increase government control and power, as government will also be able to effectively decide what content should be displayed by platforms “, it said.
Updated with Minister’s comments.