Home / News / India /  Centre notifies 3 panels to look into complaints against social media firms

New Delhi: The government on Saturday notified three grievance appellate committees (GACs) to look into users‘ complaints against social media firms, the Ministry of Electronics and IT said.

“Keeping in view of the transition period required for the intermediaries as per their requests and technical requirement, the online platform will be operational in one month of this notification of the Grievance Appellate Committee, i.e. from 1st March 2023," the ministry said.

The GACs, constituted with three members each, have been formed based on the recently amended Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (IT Rules 2021) .

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.

The first panel will be chaired by the 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 the joint secretary in charge of the Policy and Administration Division in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

The third panel will be chaired by Kavita Bhatia, a senior scientist at the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. Former traffic service officer of the Indian Railways Sanjay Goel and former managing director and chief executive officer of IDBI Intech Krishnagiri Ragothamarao have been appointed as the whole-time members of the third panel.

“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 said.

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.

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