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Draft Amendments to IT Rules, 2021

Information Technology (IT) Rules 2021- Relevance for UPSC Exam

Draft Amendments to IT Rules: Information Technology (IT) Rules 2021 aims to govern information technology and various allied aspects related to IT like regulation of social media platforms related. Draft Amendments to IT Rules 2021 will come under Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation of UPSC GS Paper 2.

Draft Amendments to IT Rules, 2021_40.1

 

 

Draft Amendments to IT Rules in News

  • Recently, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has published a fresh draft of amendments to the Information Technology Rules, 2021.
  • Amendments to IT Rules proposes the creation of government-appointed appeal committees that will be able to veto content-moderation decisions taken by social media intermediaries like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Draft Amendments to IT Rules, 2021_50.1

 

Proposed Amendments to the IT Rules, 2021

  • Grievance Appellate Committees (GAC): The draft proposes to create government-appointed appeal committees that will be empowered to review and possibly reverse content moderation decisions taken by social media companies.
    • Organizational Structure: Grievance Appellate Committees shall consist of a Chairperson and such other Members, as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint.
  • Key Role of GAC: in case a user is not satisfied with the content moderation decision taken by a company’s grievance officer, they can appeal that decision before the proposed government-appointed appeals committee.
    • Currently, the only recourse a user has against companies’ content decisions is to approach the courts.
  • Additional Responsibilities on company’s grievance officer: Draft amendment to IT Rules 2021 suggests placing additional responsibilities on grievance officers appointed by social media companies.
    • It says that if a user complains about content which is “patently false”, infringes copyright, and threatens the integrity of India, among other things, a grievance officer will have to expeditiously address it within 72 hours.
    • Under current rules, grievance officers have 15 days to act on and dispose of users’ complaints.

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Need for Amendments to IT Rules 2021

  • Protecting the Constitutional Rights: proposed amendments will ensure that “Constitutional rights of Indian citizens are not contravened by any big tech platform by ensuring new accountability standards”.
  • Need for GAC: there have been many instances that grievance officers of intermediaries either do not address the grievances satisfactorily and/or fairly.
    • In such a scenario, the need for an appellate forum has been proposed to protect the rights and interests of users.
  • Poor Customer Grievance redressal system at Social Media Platforms: de-platforming of users by social media companies without allowing them an opportunity to explain their actions, was major concern of the government, triggering the present amendment.

 

Associated Concerns

  • Proposal to set up government-appointed committees has triggered concerns about the government overriding social media platforms’ content decisions.
  • The proposal, without any legislative basis, seeks to subject content on social media to the direct scrutiny of the government by permitting users to appeal decisions of social media platforms to a GAC constituted by MeitY.

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