The first edition of the government’s proposed new quarterly report, containing insights on the pace at which social media intermediaries comply with IT Act and IT Rules 2021, will be released on September 30, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar said.
It will follow a recent report by microblogging site Twitter that identified India as one among the top five countries to issue content-blocking orders to Twitter during July-December 2021. The report also said India made the highest number of legal demands globally to remove content posted by verified journalists and news outlets on the platform during the same period.
“Every quarter, there's going to be an audit of all intermediaries and their compliance record. We will do a report on how many directions of the government, how many compliances they have actually not addressed,” Chandrasekhar said in an exclusive interview with Moneycontrol.
Not just Twitter, but other social media platforms such as Meta and its unit Facebook too publish transparency reports wherein they provide insights on how many content-blocking orders they received from governments across the world.
“Right now compliance is seen as: "I will appoint a grievance officer and I will upload some data." But that data reflects patchy compliance, inconsistent compliance; and if you are not addressing consumers’ grievances, then that’s not compliance,” Chandrasekhar said.
“It is not something that we want from the intermediary, it has nothing to do with us. It has to do with the intermediary and the consumer. We don't want the intermediary to ignore legitimate grievances of the digital nagrik (citizen). That accountability has to be real accountability,” he added.
Under Information Technology Rules 2021, enforced in May last year, significant social media intermediaries, which are platforms with more than 5 million subscribers, had to make additional appointments such as grievance officers, chief compliance officers and so on.
Grievance officers were to be appointed to address content-related grievances of users. A year later, the government proposed amendments to IT Rules 2021, stating that the grievance redressal mechanism was not operating effectively.
In draft amendments, the government has proposed the creation of a Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC) where decisions by social media grievance officers can be appealed.At consultations on the draft amendments, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology made it clear that the government was open to the creation of an industry-created self-regulatory body to handle such appeals, instead of a GAC.