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IT Rules 2021: Government notifies three Grievance Appellate Committees to address users’ complaints – Times of India

The government has established three Grievance Appellate Committees based on the recently amended Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021) to look into users’ complaints against internet intermediaries. The need for such Committees reportedly arose due to large numbers of grievances being left unaddressed or unsatisfactorily addressed by internet intermediaries.
The notification to this effect has been published. As per the notification, three Grievance Appellate Committees (GACs) have been constituted with three members each. The IT rules 2021 provide for creating avenues for grievance redressal apart from courts and ensure that the constitutional rights of Indian citizens are not contravened by any Big Tech platform by ensuring new accountability standards for SSMIs.
What and why of GAC
The Grievance Appellate Committee is an important piece of overall policy and legal framework to ensure that the internet in India is open, safe and trusted and accountable. The need for GAC was created due to large numbers of grievances being left unaddressed or unsatisfactorily addressed by internet intermediaries. GAC is expected to create a culture of responsiveness amongst all internet platforms and intermediaries towards their consumers. The GAC will be a virtual digital platform that will operate only online and digitally — wherein the entire appeal process, from the filing of appeal to the decision thereof, shall be conducted digitally.
The appeals can be made on https://www.gac.gov.in
Users will have the option to appeal against the decision of the grievance officer of the social media intermediaries and other online intermediaries before this new appellate body. The committee will endeavour to address users’ appeals within a period of 30 days.
Timeline and names
The government had earlier interacted with major social media intermediaries. Keeping in view of the transition period required for the intermediaries as per their requests and technical requirement, the online platform will be operational within one month of this notification of the Grievance Appellate Committee, i.e., from March 1, 2023. Periodic reviews of GACs and reporting and disclosures of GAC orders will also be part of the process.
Rajesh Kumar, CEO of Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C), Ministry of Home Affairs; Vikram Sahay, Joint Secretary in charge of Policy and Administration Division in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting; and Kavita Bhatia, Scientist G, and Joint Secretary rank officer in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology are respective Chairperson ex officio of the three committees.

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