The Centre on Saturday notified three grievances appellate committees that will address users’ complaints against social media and other Internet-based platforms.
As per the Gazette notification, three Grievance Appellate Committees (GAC) have been constituted with three members each. Each of the three GACs will have a chairperson, two whole-time members from different government entities and retired senior executives from the industry for a term of three years from the date of assumption of office, it said.
The first panel will be chaired by Rajesh Kumar, Chief Executive Officer of the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Ashutosh Shukla and Punjab National Bank’s (PNB) former chief general manager and chief information officer Sunil Soni have been appointed as the whole-time members of the panel.
The second panel will be chaired by Vikram Sahay, Joint Secretary in charge of the Policy and Administration Division in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Indian Navy’s retired Commodore Sunil Kumar Gupta and Kavindra Sharma, former Vice-President (consulting), L&T Infotech, have been appointed as the whole-time members of this panel. The third panel will be chaired by Kavita Bhatia, a senior scientist at the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
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Former traffic service officer of the Indian Railways Sanjay Goel and former Managing Director and CEO of IDBI Intech Krishnagiri Ragothamarao have been appointed as the whole-time members of the third panel, the notification said.
The notification is part of the tighter IT rules, notified in October 2022 for setting up government-appointed GACs.
“The GAC is a critical piece of overall policy and legal framework to ensure that Internet in India is open, safe and trusted and accountable. The need for GAC was created due to large numbers of grievances being left unaddressed or unsatisfactorily addressed by Internet Intermediaries. GAC is expected to create a culture of responsiveness amongst all Internet platforms and intermediaries towards their consumers,” the government notification said.
Users will have the option to appeal against the decision of the grievance officer of the social media intermediaries and other online intermediaries before this new appellate body. The Committee will endeavour to address the user’s appeal within a period of 30 days.
It will be a virtual digital platform that will operate only online and digitally – the entire appeal process, from the filing of appeal to the decision thereof shall be conducted digitally.
IT rules 2021
The IT rules 2021 provide for creating avenues for grievance redressal apart from courts and ensure that the Constitutional rights of Indian citizens are not contravened by any big-tech platform by ensuring new accountability standards for significant social media intermediaries (SSMIs).
During the extensive public consultations on the IT Rules, the Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Rajeev Chandrasekhar had said the compliance of rules and laws was not a “pick-and-choose” or “cherry-picking” option for the platforms.
He had articulated the government’s stand that the safety and trust of every Digital nagrik, and robust grievance redressal system to ensure accountability of all Internet platforms offering a service or product, was an unambiguous goal and that all grievances must be addressed.