India: WhatsApp appoints grievance officer to comply with new IT rules

Web Report/Mumbai
Filed on June 1, 2021 | Last updated on June 1, 2021 at 12.05 pm
Photo: Reuters

Paresh B. Lal is the officer, based in Banjara Hills in Hyderabad.

WhatsApp, which has been engaged in a court battle with the Indian government over the new social media rules, has finally appointed a grievance officer.

“You can contact the Grievance Officer based in India with your complaints or concerns,” the WhatsApp web page informed its members. Paresh B. Lal is the officer, based in Banjara Hills in Hyderabad. “Please do not use the Grievance Officer channel for any law enforcement requests, or to serve any legal process,” it said further. “If you are a law enforcement official, please read our information for law enforcement authorities on how you can contact us.”

Other social media and digital companies have also started updating their sites confirming the appointment of grievance officers as per the new social media rules that have taken effect in India. Announced in February, the new rules require “significant social media intermediaries” – or those with over five million users – to grievance, nodal and chief compliance offers. These officials are to be resident in India. The new rules have now come into effect.

The grievance officer has to acknowledge the complaint within 24 hours and dispose it of within a fortnight. The companies also have to publish monthly compliance reports giving details of complaints received and the action taken. Flagged content will have to be remove within 36 hours, while those flagged for nudity and pornography will have to be taken off within 24 hours.

Importantly, the social media intermediaries who provide messaging services have to ensure identification of the ‘first originator’ of the message that undermines the sovereignty of India, the security of the state or public order.

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