India weighs appeal panel against social media takedowns

There could be more than one such appeal panel, according to the document, made public on June 2, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - 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.

The revelation came in a document canvassing public comment on plans for changes to IT rules that took effect last year, and which aim at regulating social media content and making firms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter more accountable.

The document, made public on Thursday (June 2), proposed one or more such appeal panels. It set a deadline of 30 days for appeals against decisions by company grievance officers, while the panels themselves get a further 30 days to take up the matter. 

Social media firms are already required to have an in-house grievance redressal officer and designate executives to co-ordinate with law enforcement officials.

"The intermediary shall respect the rights accorded to citizens under the constitution," the draft rules say in a newly-added section, referring to social media companies.

India ranks among the largest sources worldwide of government requests for content takedowns to Twitter Inc and Meta Platforms Inc.

Tension has flared between India’s nationalist government and Twitter, which declined last year to comply fully with orders to take down accounts and posts accused of spreading misinformation about farmers’ protests against the government.

Last year, government officials said social media platforms may no longer be eligible to seek liability exemptions as intermediaries or the hosts of user content if they failed to follow domestic information and technology laws.

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