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Clubhouse appoints Grievance Redressal Officer for India as mandated by IT Rules 2021

To comply with the IT Rules, social media intermediaries like Clubhouse need to appoint a grievance officer, apart from publishing transparency reports and a host of other requirements. 

In compliance with the ​​Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, Clubhouse has appointed a new grievance redressal officer for India. Clubhouse has named Alpha Exploration listed under Dan Ashton as its grievance officer, and the address provided is in San Francisco.

Clubhouse is an audio-based social networking platform where users communicate in voice chat rooms. It can accommodate up to 5000 users in one chat room. Information about its grievance officer is available on the platform’s Knowledge Centre page.

As per the new IT Rules, the grievance redressal officer for significant social media intermediaries should be an Indian resident and employee of the platform. Responding to a query by MediaNama, Clubhouse clarified that since it does not meet the threshold of a significant social media intermediary (a social media intermediary with more than 50 lakh registered users in India), it has appointed an employee of Clubhouse who is not currently based in India as a grievance officer specifically for Indian users. The platform also stated that it is still hiring for the same role in India. 

What do the IT Rules require? 

The IT Rules require social media intermediaries to: 

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  • Appoint officers: It’s mandatory for significant social media intermediaries to appoint a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person, and grievance redressal officer to whom the users can file complaints. However, the officers need to be Indian residents and employees of the company.
  • Publish reports: Periodic compliance reports need to be published every month.
  • Disable content within a specific period: Social media intermediaries must disable/take down content within 36 hours in case of a court order and within 24 hours in case of a user complaint. 
  • Takedown content using automated tools: Technology-based measures such as automated tools have to be deployed to identify information that depicts rape, child sexual abuse (CSA), etc. 
  • Enable identification of the first originator of the message: This requirement could violate end-to-end encryption on instant messaging apps like WhatsApp

Other social media sites and their appointments

The government had notified the IT Rules in February and had given a window of three months for compliance. The following social media intermediaries have already appointed a grievance officer in India: 

  • Twitter: Vinay Prakash will be responsible for handling grievances and ensuring compliance for Twitter. This announcement comes after a 3 month-long tussle between Twitter and the government regarding Twitter’s non-compliance with the IT rules. Twitter had initially appointed advocate Dharmendra Chatur as its grievance redressal officer but the government had objected since he was not an employee of Twitter. Even Vinay Prakash’s appointment was on an interim basis initially and was made permanent only in August.
  • Facebook and Instagram: Appointed Spurthy Priya as its grievance redressal officer.
  • Whatsapp: Appointed Paresh B Lal as its grievance redressal officer.
  • LinkedIn: Appointed Tanya Mampilly as its grievance redressal officer.
  • Telegram: Appointed Abhimanyu Yadav as its grievance redressal officer.

Update, August 23: The report has been updated to reflect that Clubhouse appointed a grievance officer for India, not in India. The error is regretted. 

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