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Govt withdraws draft notification to set up panel for social media takedowns

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The Centre has withdrawn an official draft notification proposing changes to the new Information Technology rules including plans to set up a grievance appellate committee to look into appeals filed by individuals against decisions of grievance officers of social media platforms.

On Thursday (June 2), the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) had proposed amendments to The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. The ministry had sought comments on the draft notification till June 22.

Also read: Twitter in compliance with new IT Rules, Centre tells Delhi High Court

However, this draft notification has been withdrawn, according to reports.

This is the second time in a week that the ministry has put out an official notification and done a U-turn. On May 29, it withdrew an official press release on sharing a photocopy of Aadhaar card.

According to a report in Economic Times, the MeitY officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said a revised set of IT rules would be uploaded “later” and the draft proposal of June 1 was taken down to “make some changes”. They declined to divulge the nature of the changes being made or when the revised rules will be available.

As per the draft notification posted on the MeitY’s website, the grievance appellate panel has to dispose of the appeals within 30 days of receiving them and its decision will be binding on the intermediaries or the large social media companies concerned.

“The central government shall constitute one or more Grievance Appellate Committees, which shall consist of a Chairperson and such other Members, as the central government may, by notification in the official gazette,” the MeitY said in the draft notification.

The aggrieved person can appeal against the decision of the grievance officer concerned before the committee within 30 days of receipt of the order.

“The Grievance Appellate Committee shall deal with such appeal expeditiously and shall make an endeavour to dispose of the appeal finally within 30 calendar days from the date of receipt of the appeal. Every order passed by the Grievance Appellate Committee shall be complied with by the concerned intermediary,” the draft notification said.

The rules for social media companies came into effect from May 26, 2021. It mandated large social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to enable identification of the ‘first originator’ of the information that undermines the sovereignty of India, the security of the state, or public order.

Under the rules, significant social media intermediaries — those with over 50 lakh users — are required to appoint a grievance officer, a nodal officer and a chief compliance officer. These personnel have to be residents in India.

Since the implementation of the rules in May last year, various social media platforms, including Facebook, have been coming out with monthly compliance reports.

(With inputs from agencies)

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