The Government of India notified the IT Rules in 2021 with an aim to address concerns regarding the lack of transparency and accountability among the intermediaries, who are exempted from liability for the acts of third parties under section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. The Rules require the intermediaries to follow the procedures laid down in order to claim exemption.
- Introduction of Grievance Appellate Committee to hear appeals against the decision of the Grievance Officer- Sub-clause 3 to Rule 3 has been proposed, which provides for the establishment of the Grievance Appellate Committee. The Central Government shall constitute one or more Grievance Appellate Committees which consists of members as provided in the rule. Persons aggrieved by the order of the Grievance Officer may appeal to this Committee within 30 days of receipt of communication from the Grievance Officer. The Committee must dispose off the appeal within 30 days from the date of receipt of the appeal.
- Under Rule 3(1)(b), the intermediary was previously required to only inform the user of its computer resource not to host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update or share the information listed under the rule. The amendment requires that the intermediary causes the user not to share such information, without notifying the user about it.
- Two clauses have been proposed to be added to sub-clause 1 of Rule 3 wherein the intermediary is required to take measures to allow access of their services to the users with a reasonable expectation of due diligence, privacy and transparency; and that the intermediaries are required to respect the rights of the citizens accorded to them by the Constitution of India.
- Rule 3(2) provides that the Grievance Officer has to acknowledge the complaints sent to him within 24 hours and dispose them off within 15 days of receiving the complaint. The proposed amendment describes what is considered as a complaint and states that it includes suspension, removal or blocking of user or user accounts or any complaint or request for the removal of the information listed under Rule 3(1)(b). The proviso to this clause provides that complaints in the nature of the request for the removal of information or communication link must be redressed within 72 hours of reporting. Another proviso has been proposed that provides that the intermediary should adopt safeguards to prevent the misuse of the provision by the users.
- An amendment has been proposed to Rule 4 which provides for rules for significant social media intermediaries. Under Rule 4(8)(b), when an action taken by an intermediary is disputed by the user who has created or uploaded the information, such complaints are to be decided by the Resident Grievance Officer within 15 days. The amendment proposed provides that the complaints under this rule shall be dealt as per Rule 3(2) which provides for redressal mechanisms to be followed by the intermediaries.
A vital provision that has been proposed to be inserted is the constitution of the Grievance Appellate Committee, which allows the aggrieved persons to approach the committee, instead of filing an appeal in a court of law. It provides an alternative forum to regular courts to file appeals. Other proposed amendments are mostly clarificatory in nature and address gaps identified in the Rules.