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Govt launches Grievance Appellate Committee as part of IT Rules

The government, on Tuesday, launched the Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC), a faceless dispute resolution mechanism that makes digital platforms, big and small, accountable to DigitalNagriks. The GAC was one of the provisions in the recently amended Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. Three such bodies have been constituted comprising of professionals from various fields.

“The GACs will work in the most transparent manner, and their decisions will be uploaded on website and accessible to the public,” said Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics & Information Technology and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship.

On January 28, three GACs were constituted with three members each. Each of the three GACs have a chairperson, two whole-time members from different government entities, and retired senior executives from the industry, for a term of three years from the date of assumption of office.

According to the Gazette notification in January, the first panel will be chaired by Rajesh Kumar, Chief Executive Officer of the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Ashutosh Shukla and Punjab National Bank’s (PNB) former chief general manager and chief information officer, Sunil Soni, have been appointed as whole-time members of the panel.

Expressing happiness that the GAC launch has taken taken place on a day when PM Narendra Modi addressed a post-Budget webinar on ‘Ease of Living Through Technology’, organised by MeitY, Chandrasekhar said: “The Prime Minister spoke of how technology is transforming citizens’ lives by ensuring ease of living through schemes like DBT, JAM and faceless taxation. One more step towards it is the launch of the GAC, an appellate body that will significantly enhance the accountability of platforms to DigitalNagriks.”

Terming the GAC as an institution that will be a beacon for the Indian Internet, the Minister said the mechanism is an important part of the overall framework of making the internet open, safe, trusted and the digital platforms accountable. This, in turn, will create a culture of disclosure and public scrutiny.

“It is an extension of our government’s views, policies and vision about creating easier ways of resolving disputes – whether it’s about taxation or the grievance redressal of DigitalNagriks,” he added.

The Minister reasserted that the vision behind the GAC is to ensure that the grievance redressal mechanism of the intermediaries work effectively.

According to the Rules, users will have the option to appeal against 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 the user’s appeal within a period of 30 days. The Hindu Business Line

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