WhatsApp has finally announced its chief of staff in India. It has nominated Paresh B Lal as its national grievance officer. On its website, Facebook’s instant messaging app writes that users can now contact Paresh B Lal via the mailbox in Banjara Hills in Hyderabad, Telangana.
The WhatsApp move comes in the wake of new IT rules that came into effect last week. India’s new IT rules announced on February 25, 2021, require “key social media mediators” – those with 50 other lakh users – to appoint a grievance officer, a position manager, and a law enforcement officer. Also, these workers are required to be Indian citizens.
The rules also require these forums to publish a monthly compliance report outlining details of complaints received and actions taken with complaints as well as details of the content that has been properly removed.
News agency PTI reports that major digital companies such as Google have begun updating their websites to reflect the appointment of appeal officials in line with new communications laws.
Google’s ‘Contact Us’ page contains Joe Grier’s contact information from Mountain View, US. This page also shows details of YouTube’s grievance redressal process.
As per the new rules, all intermediaries must publish prominently on their website, app or both, the name of the appeal officer and his contact details. The Authority must accept the appeal within 24 hours and issue a complaint within 15 days from the date of receipt.
Under the new rules, social media must remove marked content within 36 hours, and remove within 24 hours of tagged nudity, pornography, etc.
The institute says the new rules are designed to prevent the abuse and misuse of forums and provide users with a solid platform to resolve complaints.
The new rules also require key communications mediators – providing services especially in the form of messaging – to enable the identification of the “first founder” of information, which undermines Indian sovereignty, state security, or public order.
According to the government, the laws seek to empower users by instructing mediators to establish a grievance redressal mechanism for resolving complaints from users or victims.
“The arbitrators will appoint a Grievance Officer to deal with the grievances and share the name and contact details of the official. The appeal will be approved within 24 hours and will be resolved within 15 days of receipt,” it said.