Google Is Uncertain About India’s Self-Regulated Grievance Appeal Committee

Google’s top executives have resisted the GAC and have stated that it could force firms to modify their internal policies about the way they handle content

Experts agree that an GAC that has excessive influence from the government would result in more censorship in India

Google, Meta, Twitter and IAMAI have been in contact with MeitY to request more time to complete the self-regulated GAC

Google have expressed concerns about the composition, structure and function for a self-regulated grievance appeals panel (GAC).

It is believed that the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has previously suggested the idea of forming the GAC together with Twitter as well as Meta. In an ET report, citing sources Google, Twitter and Meta together with IAMAI have been holding several meetings in the past few days to discuss organization and the makeup of the GAC.

Meta and Twitter were in favor of IAMAI’s suggestions However, Google’s management have resisted the GAC by claiming that it could force companies to alter their internal policies regarding how they manage content.

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An Google spokesperson was quoted as saying that the company scheduled a meeting together with MeitY and that discussions were going through with the industry and the government. The spokesperson also said that Google will explore the best solution.

In the debates in the discussions, it was suggested for the autonomous GAC is headed by retired chief justices or Supreme Court or high court judge. Other panel members include representatives from the technology industry as well as independent tech policy experts , and members of the government.

It did not appear to be likely that the top executives of intermediaries for social media or companies on the internet were going to be on the GAC panel. It has also been developing grievance redressal Appellate ever since the initial draft IT rules change was announced in 2021.

The government would like to create the grievance appellate panel the sole authority to control social media content as in accordance with the new IT rules. However, some legal experts have proposed the concept that there should be an autonomous GAC.

In a prior interview to Newsexposer Krishnesh, an associate counsel for litigation at the Internet Freedom Foundation stated, “The biggest issue is that this could make the Grievance Appeal Committee the ultimate arbiter of acceptable online speech. Internet.”

Alongside The Internet Freedom Foundation, Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) has also voiced its concern concerning the structure of Grievance Appellate Committee in India. The trade association has called the decision similar to state taking on the function as the judge.

The parties have all approached MeitY. Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to ask for more time to complete the GAC. It was also an issue which was raised by the AIC as well as the association, which said the timelines were too short to meet the vague regulations for compliance.

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