The Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Code of Conduct) Rules came into effect last year, making it mandatory for major social media intermediaries operating in India to comply with their guidelines. Now the rules are getting an update and months after changes were proposed to bring in the IT rules, the Indian government has come and notified the amendments.

The revised Information Technology Amendment (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Code of Conduct) Regulations 2022 will come into force immediately. A notice from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) informed that they have received a green signal from the government to set up a Grievance Grievance Committee (GAC) – a government-appointed body that will be responsible for handling consumer complaints and addressing (and reversing, if necessary) content moderation decisions made by social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter in the world’s second largest internet market.

The notification is currently in the public domain to gather stakeholder feedback. It also informed that any such appellate committee will consist of a chairman and two permanent members and will be constituted within three months from the date of coming into force of the revised IT rules 2022. Users who remain dissatisfied with the response of an intermediary officer’s complaint can be referred to the GAC within a 30-day period, which will attempt to resolve the issue within the next 30 days – during which it can seek expert assistance.

It is further informed that the appellate committee will be constituted under Rule 3A of the amended IT Rules and will require the social media intermediary to publish the rules and regulations, privacy policy and user agreement to the user and make “reasonable efforts to make the user of his computer resource not to host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update or share” information that:

1. belongs to another person and over which the user has no rights,
2. Is obscene, pornographic, pedophilic, invasive of another’s privacy, including bodily integrity, offensive or harassing on the basis of gender, racially or ethnically objectionable, related to or promoting money laundering or gambling, or promoting enmity between different groups based on religion or caste with intent to incite violence,
3. It is harmful to a child,
4. Violates patent, trademark, copyright or other proprietary rights,
5. Misleads or misleads the addressee as to the origin of the message or knowingly and intentionally communicates any misinformation or information that is patently false and untrue or misleading in nature
6. Impersonates another person,
7. Threatens the unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign countries or public order, or causes incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence, or prevents the investigation of any offence, or offends any other nation,
8. Contains a software virus or other computer code, file or program designed to interrupt, destroy or limit the functionality of any computer resource,
9. Violates any applicable law.

In addition, intermediaries must periodically and at least once a year inform their users of their rules and regulations, privacy policy or user agreement or any change in the same, and acknowledge any complaint within 24 hours and resolve it within a period of fifteen days from the date of its receipt.