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WhatsApp has finally announced its grievance officer for India. It has named Paresh B Lal as its grievance officer for the country. On its website, Facebook-owned instant messaging app writes that now users can contact Paresh B Lal through a post box in Banjara Hills in Hyderabad, Telangana.

WhatsApp's move comes in the backdrop of the new IT rules coming into effect last week. India's new IT rules, announced on 25 February 2021, require "significant social media intermediaries" — those with other 50 lakh users — to appoint a grievance officer, nodal officer and a chief compliance officer. And, these personnel are required to be resident in India.

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The rules also require these social media platforms to publish a monthly compliance report mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints as well as details of contents removed proactively.

News agency PTI reports that large digital companies like Google have begun updating their websites to reflect the appointment of grievance officers as per the new social media rules.

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Google's 'Contact Us' page has the details of Joe Grier as a contact person with an address from Mountain View, US. The page also shows the details of the grievance redressal mechanism for YouTube.

As per the new rules, all intermediaries have to prominently publish on their website, app or both, the name of the grievance officer and his/her contact details. The officer will have to acknowledge the complaint within 24 hours and dispose of complaint within 15 days from the date of its receipt.

Under the new rules, social media platforms will have to take down flagged content within 36 hours, and remove within 24 hours content that is flagged for nudity, pornography etc.  

The Centre has said the new rules are designed to prevent abuse and misuse of platforms, and offer users a robust forum for grievance redressal. 

The new rules also require significant social media intermediaries - providing services primarily in the nature of messaging - to enable identification of the "first originator" of the information, that undermines sovereignty of India, security of the state, or public order.

According the government, the rules seek to empower the users by mandating the intermediaries to establish a grievance redressal mechanism for receiving resolving complaints from the users or victims.

"Intermediaries shall appoint a Grievance Officer to deal with such complaints and share the name and contact details of such officer. Grievance Officer shall acknowledge the complaint within twenty four hours and resolve it within fifteen days from its receipt," it said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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