The Centre on Saturday 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 arose due to large numbers of grievances being left unaddressed or unsatisfactorily addressed by Internet Intermediaries.

The GACs are expected to create a culture of responsiveness amongst all Internet Platforms and Intermediaries towards their consumers.

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 the users' appeal within a period of 30 days.

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 in 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.

Officials said that the GAC is a critical piece of overall policy and legal framework to ensure that the Internet in India is open, safe, trusted and accountable. The GAC will be a virtual Digital platform that will operate only online and digitally - wherein the entire appeal process, from filing of appeal to the decision thereof, shall be conducted digitally.

As per the notification, three GACs have been constituted with three members each. Rajesh Kumar, CEO, 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.

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.

During the extensive public consultations on the IT Rules, Electronics & Information Technology Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar had articulated the stand of the Government that - safety and trust of every Digital Nagrik, and robust grievance redressal system to ensure accountability of all Internet platforms offering a service or product, was an unambiguous goal and that all grievances must be 100 per cent addressed.