A day after the announcement of amendments in the Information and Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, the Union Minister of State for Entrepreneurship, Skill Development, Electronics & Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar appeared on Republic Media Network’s Nation Wants to Know with Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami.
Chandrasekhar highlighted how the government has rolled out a roadmap for the next decade, from a technological and digital economy point of view to attain the goal of a Trillion Dollar Economy by 2026. The Union Minister of State stated the need for the internet to be ‘safe and trusted’ for the same. He opined, “It is a place where currently 80 crore Indians are connected to usage for their lives, livelihoods, subsidies, education and health and by 2025-26, that number will be 120 crores. It is important therefore that the underlying internet is safe and trusted.”
During the exclusive conversation, Chandrasekhar pointed out how over the last few years, there was a trend with enough evidence that the internet was being misused to cause user harm, and indulge in illegalities through unlawful content. “To address this part of the internet, to keep it safe and trusted, we came out with the rules last year i.e., 2021. However, in the last few months, there has been constant learning as to what the gaps in these rules were and in the current edition, they have been addressed.”
Why can’t the Centre let it be?
Clearing that the Central government is in no way interfering in the functioning of the internet, Chandrasekhar explained that it is just in line with Prime Narendra Modi’s idea of the internet being ‘open, safe and trusted’.
Elaborating on the amended rules, the Union Minister of State said, “The rules cast an absolute unambiguous obligation on intermediaries and not on the media companies. The obligations are in a way that if social media platforms find any misinformation, they have to take the content down. If they are not taking the content down, they still have the option of having content reported to them and after working on it for 72 hours, they can take it down if it is harmful for the general public.”
“If social media platforms choose to be an intermediary in India, they have to follow these rules set by the government. I also had a meeting with the intermediaries and they are very comfortable with this partnership model to make the internet a safe place for Indian citizens,” he said, adding that it was the ‘government’s duty’.
The Grievance Appellate Committee
Busting the rumours that the Grievance Appellate Committee, introduced by the rules, is a ‘power grab’, Chandrasekhar said, “The Grievance Appellate Committee is an appellate mechanism. The grievance process that we put into place is a voluntary grievance redressal process. In the event that the industry fails or breaks down, and the reason I say this is, one of the problems that we have noticed between May 2021 to today, is that many platforms, for the sake of it, for just optics, appointed a grievance committee, but are doing very little to address the grievances of the consumers you make money from and monitor. That, we believe, is an unacceptable situation. Every Indian digital citizen, who is using a service or product on the digital platform, must have his or her grievance 100% addressed.”
“As a matter of fact, these IT rules have taken additional three months to notify because the Ministry and the Government waited three months to come up with a self-regulatory model, on the Grievance Appellate Committee,” Rajeev Chandrasekhar added.
Watch the full episode here:-
Image: Republic World