Indian Panel to Rule on Appeals Against Social Media Takedowns
India is considering whether to set up an appeals panel with the power to reverse the content moderation decisions of social media firms, the information technology ministry said, in what would be the first such move of its kind worldwide.
FREMONT, CA: Documents seeking comments on upcoming changes to IT rules revealed this information in an attempt to regulate social media content and hold firms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter more accountable. One or more such appeal committees were recommended in the document, which was made public. It imposed a 30-day deadline for appeals against company grievance officers' rulings, with the panels themselves getting another 30 days to consider the case. Companies that use social media must first have an in-house grievance redress officer and designate executives to work with law enforcement. In a newly added clause, the proposed guidelines state that the intermediary shall respect the rights guaranteed to individuals under the constitution, referring to social media businesses.
India is one of the top sources of government petitions for content takedowns to Twitter Inc. and Meta Platforms Inc. around the globe. According to Apar Gupta from the Internet Freedom Foundation, the ministry's plan will give it more power over social media platforms by allowing it to hire officials to oversee content moderation decisions. The group’s executive director expressed his concern as the committee will have no autonomy and is likely to be constituted without any statute or clear legal foundation. Tensions rose between India's nationalist government and Twitter when refused to comply with instructions to remove accounts and messages accused of disseminating false information about farmers' demonstrations against the government. The previous year, government authorities indicated that if social media companies failed to respect domestic information and technology rules, they may no longer be eligible for liability protection as intermediaries or hosts of user content.
By user count, India is the largest market for YouTube and Facebook, as well as a significant global market for Twitter. Content moderation judgments made by social media giants such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter can only be appealed to a court under present legislation. The proposed new accountability requirements, according to India's Ministry of IT and Electronics, are intended at ensuring that the constitutional rights of Indian citizens are not contravened by any Big-tech Platform. The proposed revisions to the IT standards emerge after a few years for U.S. IT companies, who have already been pressed to designate and provide contact details of grievance redressal officers to respond to on-the-ground concerns and work with law enforcement officials. These policies have succeeded in instilling a new sense of accountability among intermediaries toward their users, particularly inside Big Tech platforms, according to the ministry. Google, Twitter, Meta, and a slew of other companies have already fully or partially implemented the IT regulations that went into effect last year.