The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology released a bill on the Intermediary Rules 2022 in June 2022. The bill primarily focused upon the setting up of the intermediary offices by the corporates and the platforms for faster and efficient addresal of the users grievances. This bill was a clean example of how the platforms need to improve compliance to the law of the land and how the users grievance redressal is a paramount responsibility. Another keen aspect of the bill was the Grievance Appellate Committee. It allows users to file an appeal against the decision of the social media intermediaries before the said Committee. The official gazetted notification of the Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code Amendment Rules, 2022 was released on 28 October 2022 thus giving the legal allowance the rules and regulations as the same now stands enacted.
The key aspects of the Intermediary Rules-
- As per the amended rules, each grievance appellate committee will consist of a chairperson and two whole-time members appointed by the central government, of which one will be a member ex-officio and two shall be independent members. The committee’s aim will be to provide for a quick and efficient redressal while maintaining transparency and implying stricter compliance for the platforms.
- Any person aggrieved by a decision of the grievance officer may prefer an appeal to the grievance appellate committee within a period of thirty days from the date of receipt of communication from the grievance officer. This is the first stage of appeal under the mechanism.
- The grievance appellate committee shall adopt an online dispute resolution mechanism wherein the entire appeal process, from the filing of an appeal to the decision thereof, shall be conducted through digital mode. Thus showcasing how the govt is drafting rules and laws keeping the technological advancements into consideration, the online dispute resolution process will allow the aggrieved to keep a real time check upon the proceedings and the orders passed under the same.
- The MoS Rajeev Chandershekhar has been very clear and expressive on the point that the new panels will not substitute the civil court system, and its decision can be challenged in the courts, thus signifying the transparency in the mechanism and keeping adherence to the fundamental rights under article 14, 19 & 21 of the Constitution of India.
- The complaints in the nature of request for removal of information or communication link relating to obscene, pornograhic content, content harmful for child, misleading content, content impersonating another person, content threatening unity, integrity, security of India etc shall be resolved expeditiously and within a period of 24 hours of reporting. This mandate has been opposed by various corporation stating that the time limit is unrealistic, how ever it is pertinent that the law stays in congruence with the advancements in technology, hence this will allow the corporated to come up with tech driven solutions for faster addresal of the user grievances.
The intermediary rules, 2022 have shifted the onus of compliance and user safety upon the platforms and corporations as they are the service providers and also leading the world in terms of new softwares and applications. The major technological giants will be responsible for setting up the grievance offices and softwares to make sure that the issues and complaints are rectified within the authorised time frame. This legislation will act as a foundation stone for the new set of cyber laws to come in to better protect the Indian netizen. With advancements like web 3.0, blockchain, metaverse it is vital that the nation’s cyberlaw is secured before new firms of cyber threats/crimes emerge, thus eradicating them before they are committed.
This set of regulations have brought a new meaning and scope to the cyber law in India, the country was facing various issues as the laws were not consistent with the technology and various platforms were violating compliances to the laws. This official notification comes at a quite important juncture as the nation is going deep into the “Make in India” scheme, various new entrepreneurs and start ups have come up in the past two years and hence protecting them from the big corporates is also a responsibility if the Government and this bill clearly lays more emphasis on law of the land thus improving compliance. This legislation will most certainly be responsible for providing a clean and safe cyberspace for the users as well the corporations while being in the scope of the laws.
Author: Mr. Abhishek Singh, Research Associate, CyberPeace Foundation