The government is open to changing provisions of the Information Technology Rules 2021 in the future and providing exemptions to startups in terms of compliance with the proposed amendments, Minister of State in Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar said on June 23.
In the draft amendments to the IT Rules 2021, MeitY has brought in a new Grievance Appellate Committee that is aimed at providing an additional mechanism to appeal decisions made by grievance officers of intermediaries.
It has also proposed a change in the grievance redressal mechanism, where intermediaries will be required to address grievances regarding content removal from platforms within 72 hours.
During the consultation, the ministry received several queries regarding the Grievance Appellate Committee. Chandrasekhar repeatedly clarified that the government is open to replacing the committee with a self-regulatory body created by the industry, and more broadly, open to making more changes to the IT Rules 2021.
“You see how the rules were last framed in February 2021 and enacted in May 2021. And I have said all along that these are constantly going to evolve, evolve in consultation with the stakeholders, evolve as a consequence of feedback from stakeholders,” he said.
“So even if we agree that there will be an appellate tribunal model today, appellate committee model today, there is nothing that today says that we will not be able to change it into a self-regulatory or a self-regulating mechanism one year down the road or six months down the road, we are completely open to that,” Chandrasekhar added.
At another point, Chandrasekhar also talked about replacing this structure with “something that is more contemporaneous”.
It is important to note that MeitY is slated to bring in draft amendments to the more than 20-year-old Information Technology Act.
In terms of compliance with the draft amendments to the IT Rules, especially the new provision of redressing certain grievances within 72 hours, it was pointed out to MeitY that the provision may have a disproportionate effect on startups.
In response, Chandrasekhar said, “We do not want the startup ecosystem to even be remotely impacted by this. So if there is some language that you (stakeholders) think should be brought in as certain exemptions, or some exclusions, or a certain threshold, if there's a language like that, please share it with us. And we're happy to exclude the small startups in young startups, new startups.”Earlier in the month, MeitY published draft amendments to the IT Rules claiming that these would ensure that the Constitutional rights of Indian citizens are not contravened by Big Tech platforms. The ministry asked stakeholders to give their submissions by July 6.