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Govt notifies grievances appellate committees to look into complaints against social media firms

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NEW DELHI: The Centre has notified three grievances appellate committees that will address users’ complaints against social media and other internet-based platforms.

According to the notification, each of the three GACs (grievances appellate committees) will have a chairperson, two whole-time members from different government entities and retired senior executives from the industry for a term of three years from the date of assumption of office.

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.

Indian Navy’s retired Commodore Sunil Kumar Gupta and Kavindra Sharma, former vice-president (consulting), L and T Infotech, have been appointed as the whole-time members of this panel.

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 notification is part of the tighter IT rules, notified in October 2022 for setting up government-appointed GACs.

The objective of establishing the GACs is to settle the issues that users may have against the manner in which social media platforms initially addressed their complaints regarding content and other matters.

After the notification of the IT rules for social media, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar had said the compliance of rules and laws was not a “pick-and-choose” or “cherry-picking” option for the platforms.

He had cautioned that if and when rules are not followed, the “safe harbour protection” that these platforms enjoy falls away.

The provision of safe harbour under IT laws gives internet platforms — social media, e-commerce etc. — protection from the content posted by users. “The government looks at the internet through the prism of keeping it safe and accountable for 120 crore digital nagriks (digital citizens). Safe and trusted internet is an integral part of the trillion dollar digital economy goal,” the minister had said. (PTI)

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