Govt open to recommendations on self-regulation from big tech platforms: IT Minister

The government is "open" to big tech platforms proposing an effective self-regulatory appellate mechanism that can offer a "better solution" to resolve grievances raised by social media users, said IT minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar on Tuesday, adding that new social media rules will be finalised before the end of July after extensive consultations. The suggestion is significant since the Centre is considering forming a grievance appellate body to hear appeals submitted by individuals against judgments made by grievance officers of social media sites.

Furthermore, the panel must rule on the appeals within 30 days of receiving them, and its judgement would be binding on the intermediaries or significant social media businesses involved, according to the proposed revisions to the IT laws.

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"If the industry suggests...their own method of dealing with grievance appeals, we are open....this is a dialogue... We are open to new ideas if someone has a better, more efficient method," said Chandrasekhar.

According to the minister, the proposed modification is intended to provide social media users with "alternative options" for grievance redressal.

"Our position is that if the industry and these platforms come up with their own self-regulatory, self-redressal appellate process, we are open to it," the minister added, stressing that users do not currently have such a mechanism to turn to.

The government will be receptive to such proposals if the business develops its own system for resolving customer grievances and ensuring accountability.

Grievances are not being handled properly in the existing structure, he noted.

The question of appellate jurisdiction arises when huge digital platforms violate the spirit of the grievance officer process and the grievance redressal model enshrined in the regulations.

"The purpose of a grievance officer was to handle the consumer's concern... that is the whole point of accountability. However, we have heard instances that consumers file letters/complaints to grievance officials and only receive an acknowledgement, but nothing occurs," he stated.


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