India considers appeals panel with power to reverse Facebook, Twitter and YouTube content moderation decisions

India is proposing to create a veto-power appeals panel to reverse content moderation decisions by social media companies, it said late Monday, republishing draft changes to TI’s rules after quietly withdrawing them. In the past week. If enacted, it would be the first time globally that a nation has created such an appeals panel. New Delhi, which is currently seeking public comments on the proposal with a 30-day deadline, said the new amendment “will not affect early-stage or growth-stage Indian companies or startups,” in a relief to local giants like Dailyhunt, ShareChat and Koo. India is YouTube and Facebook’s largest market by number of users and a key overseas region for Twitter. Under current law, content moderation decisions by social media giants like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter can only be appealed in court. India’s IT and Electronics Ministry said in a statement that the proposed “new liability standards” aim to ensure that the “constitutional rights of Indian citizens are not infringed by any big tech platform.” “A number of intermediaries have acted in violation of the constitutional rights of Indian citizens,” the ministry added. The proposed amendments to IT rules follow a remarkable few years for US tech giants who have already been pressured to name and share contact details for complaint remediation officers to promptly address 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 firms are already fully or partially compliant with TI’s rules, which went into effect last year. The rules also require major social media companies that operate encrypted messaging services to devise a way to track the originator of messages for special cases. Several companies, including Facebook’s WhatsApp and Signal, have not complied with this requirement. WhatsApp last year sued the Indian government over this requirement. Twitter faced backlash from the government last year for its decision not to block some accounts and tweets that New Delhi found objectionable. The heat followed the company’s top executive vacating the position to seek a different role within the company. The New Delhi-based digital rights advocacy group Internet Freedom Foundation, which has raised serious concerns about the IT rules, calling them “undemocratic and unconstitutional,” said in a statement that the proposed changes “only perpetuate the illegalities already existing”.


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