Social companies look to a self-regulatory body to tackle content issues

global internet companies dead (Facebook), TwitterAnd the The Google They paint the structure for self-regulatory body To deal with appeal requests via Social media users In India due to content and removal issues, many aware people told ET. The proactive move by the social media giants comes on the heels of the center’s proposal to the Grievance Appeals Committee (GAC) in its draft amendments to the IT rules, 2021, which sparked ongoing resistance from mediators.

The sources said the latest proposal made by social media brokers is likely to be put forward for detailed discussions with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology by the end of this week or next week. The self-regulatory framework provides for the establishment of a body headed by either a retired Chief Justice or a judge of the Supreme Court or one of the country’s highest courts. The other members will be drawn from industry ranks, independent technology policy experts and one or two government-appointed members, they added.

“We are ready to take responsibility for the self-regulatory body under the ministry’s supervision. Once the structure is completed, we will submit it to the government for approval,” said one industry executive on condition of anonymity.

Mails sent to Meta and Google regarding the proposed structure prompted no response, while Twitter said it had no comments to share on the issue.

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the representative body of more than 470 internet companies, including major social media brokers such as Google, Meta and Twitter, has also recommended a self-regulatory body as the GAC. IAMAI is leading the mission of gaining industry consensus on the self-regulatory body. Industry executives said the consultations were expected to be completed within a week.

Earlier in response to the industry’s response to the government’s proposal on the GAC, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology
Rajiv Chandrasekhar said The center was open to the idea of ​​social media brokers creating a self-regulatory body or else the government would have to set up its own committee in order to protect user “harm”.

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In a statement to ET about recent developments, IAMAI said it “echos the government’s sentiments about self-regulation as an intervention in politics. We believe this is the ideal scenario for all stakeholders involved as it achieves the government’s goal with minimal business disruption. With this in mind, I suggested IAMAI also self-regulates as a recommendation in our official response to the government’s advice on proposed amendments to the 2021 IT Rules.”

The government’s proposal to compress the timeline for responding to user complaints to 72 hours from 96 hours has also raised concerns. According to the sources, IAMAI indicated in its recommendation that brokers will find it difficult to stick to the “cut” schedules.

The government-appointed GAC proposal has been heavily criticized by global and domestic technical policy and business advisory groups. Earlier this month, major US lobby groups – the US-Indian Business Council (USIBC), the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) which prepares companies such as Facebook and Twitter whose members have written letters to MEITY raise concerns about how the This committee. Act independently if the government controls its formation.

However, a senior government official recently told ET that he had yet to receive a concrete proposal from the industry and in a scenario where the industry fails to come up with self-regulation, the government will have to “set up a committee” in order to take care of social media users’ grievances.

“The goal of the Court of Appeal (GAC) is to make sure that social media mediators do not take grievance redress mechanisms seriously, which is what is happening today. They (social media platforms) receive a complaint in the form of an email, you send an acknowledgment and that’s it. “This is not compensation for the complaint,” a senior government official told ET last week.

ET was on July 23 You mentioned that the government, in order to preserve the independence of the GAC, has proposed appointing only one or two members to the committee, who will essentially serve as a liaison with the industry.

While the government has yet to finalize the proposed GAC structure, the official said that apart from the government-appointed member, the committee will have other prominent members and independent experts from the field of technology and politics. However, it was unlikely that “any executives from social media brokers or Internet companies” would “be included on the appellate body’s board,” the official told ET.

The GAC, which was proposed under the 2021 IT Rules Amendment Draft, has proposed a forum that aims to provide users with a primary option to “challenge the grievance-handling process of social media companies” before heading to any court.

According to the proposed draft, although users would still have the option of going to a court of law if they wished, the GAC would give them the option to be heard without spending the necessary legal and other fees.

Last month, the Ministry of Information Technology completed public consultations with industry experts, lawyers and representatives of social media brokers on proposed changes to the 2021 IT rules that were released on June 6.

“We believe that if the industry and these platforms come up with their own appeal mechanism for self-regulation and self-compensation, we are open to it. Today there is none,” State Minister Chandrasekhar said during an open panel discussion on June 23. It also asked all stakeholders to provide comments on the amendments by July 6.

Senior officials said the Ministry of Information Technology has received nearly 100 proposals, some of which are studying it in more detail with the help of specialized experts and legal experts.

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