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New IT regulations must be followed by Twitter and other social media companies in India

The Indian government stated on Friday that it would be amending its information technology laws to include social media businesses. This move might be seen as an attempt to restrain large internet companies.

Photo by Alexander Shatov / Unsplash

A government panel (1) will be established following the modified rules to hear user complaints regarding social media platform content moderation decisions. Relationships with big tech companies have been strained under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration, and New Delhi is also tightening controls on companies like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter (2).

The Indian tricolour flag waving in the wind at the Wagah border near Amritsar in Punjab, India.
Photo by Naveed Ahmed / Unsplash

Although there has been some conflict around social media content decisions in India, businesses frequently face removal requests from the government or intentionally eliminate content.

Having an internal grievance resolution officer and designating executives to liaison with law enforcement is already a requirement for social media companies. Businesses would have to recognize user complaints under the revised guidelines within 24 hours and respond to them within 15 days or 72 hours in the case of an information takedown request.

In June, the government unveiled a draft amendment to the IT law that would require businesses to uphold the rights guaranteed to Indian residents by the country's constitution and suggest the creation of a government panel.

The users' dissatisfaction with the removal of their content is a problem for the Indian government because there is no effective structure in place for them to challenge those removals; instead, they are left with only one legal option: going to court.

Although the government had made this statement without mentioning any one corporation or set of rights, technical intermediaries had violated the fundamental rights of Indian citizens. The two full-time independent members, as well as a chairperson, will make up the government panel.

This action was taken shortly after Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Inc., completed his 44.4 billion dollar deal to acquire Twitter (3), which puts the world's richest person in charge of one of the most influential platforms. The committee will be able to review the content moderation decisions made by the social media companies.

Although users have been reporting instances of digital platforms acting arbitrarily, these IT standards have been changed for months. Within thirty days of the date they received the letter from the grievance officer, users who are unhappy with the committee's judgment may file an appeal with the appellate grievance committee.

By the notification provided, the central government must create one or more grievance appellate committees within three months of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules 2022 going into effect (4).

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