India mulls appeal panel empowered to overturn Facebook, Twitter and YouTube content moderation decisions – TechCrunch

India is proposing to set up an appeal committee with veto power to overrule content moderation decisions by social media companies, it said on Monday evening. republish the draft changes to IT rules after quietly removing it last week.

If enacted, it would be the first time in the world that a country has created such an appeal committee. New Delhi, which is currently seeking public comment on the proposal with a 30-day deadline, said the new amendment “will not impact start-up or growth-stage Indian companies or startups”, in a relief for local giants such as Dailyhunt, ShareChat and Koo.

India is YouTube and Facebook’s largest market by number of users and a key foreign region for Twitter.

Under current law, content moderation decisions made by social media giants such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter can only be appealed in court. India’s IT and Electronics Ministry said in a statement that the proposed “new accountability standards” seek to ensure that “the constitutional rights of Indian citizens are not infringed by a big-tech platform”. .

“A number of intermediaries have acted in violation of the constitutional rights of Indian citizens,” the ministry added.

The proposed changes to IT rules follow a remarkable few years for US tech giants that have already been pressured to appoint and share contact information for grievance officers in order to respond in a timely manner to concerns on the ground and coordinate with law enforcement officials.

“These rules have succeeded in creating a new sense of responsibility among intermediaries towards their users, especially within Big Tech platforms,” the ministry said.

Google, Twitter, Meta and many other companies are already fully or partially compliant with the IT rules that came into effect last year.

The rules also require large social media companies operating encrypted messaging services to design a way to trace the sender of messages for special cases. Several companies, including Facebook’s WhatsApp and Signal, have not complied with this requirement. Last year, WhatsApp sued the Indian government over this requirement.

Twitter faced backlash from the government last year over its decision not to block certain accounts and tweets deemed objectionable by New Delhi. The heat followed the departure of the company’s top executive to pursue a different role within the company.

Internet Freedom Foundation, a New Delhi-based digital rights group, which expressed serious concerns about IT rulescalling them “undemocratic and unconstitutional”, said in a statement that the proposed changes “only perpetuate already existing illegalities”.

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