In an open house discussion and consultation with various stakeholders on the proposed changes to the IT rules, Chandrasekhar said the rules are constantly evolving.
“I’ve been saying all along that these will continue to evolve in consultation with the stakeholders involved. So, even if we agree that today there will be a Court of Appeals model instead of the Appeals Committee model, there is nothing to say that we cannot transform it into a self-regulatory or self-regulatory mechanism in a year or six months,” said he.
However, companies should not invoke higher compliance costs for not complying with the rules, Chandrasekhar said, adding that compliance would always result in the costs rather than no compliance norms at all.
“There is no question that you as a platform are saying this is not in line with my own policies and rules. That’s perfectly clear. There is no doubt that you must act on it,” the minister said, adding that the government’s perspective is to ensure 4 boundary conditions for policy and rule-making around the internet.
“The government’s perspective is to ensure 4 constraints on policy and rule making around the internet – these are openness, security and trust, accountability and full compliance with the Indian constitution and legal requirements,” said Chandrasekhar.
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Over 100 participants attended the Department of IT’s open house consultation on the rules, chaired by Chandrasekhar.
During the discussion, several stakeholders raised concerns about the requirement for social media intermediaries to acknowledge and resolve users’ concerns within 72 hours, while others suggested that the Department should clarify how the appeals committees on complaints would work.
“The IT Department should produce a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis highlighting the impact of the rules on various stakeholders, including domestic startups, and seek feedback. This is standard practice in advanced jurisdictions,” said Amol Kulkarni, research director at CUTS, a policy research group.
Meanwhile, local social media platform Koo said it fully supports the changes and recommended the establishment of the Appeals Committee.
“If for any reason no appeals committee is established, a single industry-wide SRB (single resolution board) operating under a code of conduct established by MeitY is recommended. As the only Indian thought and opinion platform, Koo is volunteering to anchor and coordinate the creation of the SRB and an Indian code of conduct,” said Rajneesh Jaswal, head of public policy at the facilitator.
Earlier this month, the IT Department re-released a draft of proposed changes to technology and social media regulations that would aim to provide “more effective grievance procedures” and fill “weaknesses and gaps” in the existing regulations.
The revised notification, which came a week after a similar draft was demolished, would address challenges arising from the growing digital ecosystem, as well as gaps in current regulations, particularly around the “big tech platform,” the ministry had said said .
On Thursday, the ministry asked all stakeholders to submit a written copy of their proposals to the ministry by July 6.