The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is open to changing the Information Technology Rules of 2021 in the future as the ecosystem develops further, Minister of state Rajeev Chandrasekhar said on Thursday.
Addressing an open house discussion and consultation with various stakeholders on the proposed changes to the IT Rules, Chandrasekhar said that the rules which were being discussed would always keep evolving.
“I have said all along that these are constantly going to evolve in consultation with the stakeholders involved. So, even if we agree that there will be an appellate tribunal model to the appellate committee model today, there is nothing that says that we will not be able to change it into a self, regulatory or self-regulated mechanism one year down the road or six months,” he said.
However, companies should not cite higher costs of compliance as a way out of not following the rules, Chandrasekhar said, adding that any compliance would always add to some costs than no compliance norms at all.
“There’s no question of you saying, as a platform, that this does not align with my own guidelines and rules. That is completely clear. There is no dispute that you have to act on it,” the minister said.
The IT ministry’s open house consultation on IT Rules, chaired by Chandrasekhar, was attended by over 100 participants. During the discussion, several stakeholders raised concerns about the requirement for social media intermediaries to acknowledge and resolve user concerns within 72 hours, while others suggested that the ministry should bring more clarity on how the grievance appellate committees would work.
“The IT ministry should come up with a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis highlighting the impact of the rules on different stakeholders, including domestic start-ups, and invite feedback. This is a standard practice in advanced jurisdictions,” said Amol Kulkarni, Director, Research at CUTS, a policy research group.
Earlier this month, the IT ministry had republished a draft of proposed changes to the country’s technology and social media regulations, which it had said would aim at providing “more effective grievance redressal,” and plug “infirmities and gaps’ in the existing regulations.
The revised notification, which had come a week after a similar draft had been pulled down, would address challenges thrown up by the expanding digital ecosystem as well as gaps in the current regulations especially, “vis-a-vis Big Tech platform”, the ministry had said.
On Thursday, the ministry asked all stakeholders to submit a copy of their verbal suggestions to the ministry by July 6.