The Indian Government on Saturday issued a final notice to social media behemoth Twitter for compliance with the new Information Technology (Intermediary guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
In a strongly worded letter, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology warned the social media giant that such non-compliance with India’s new IT rules will lead to unintended consequences, including Twitter losing exemption from liability as intermediary available under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2020. It said despite sending two notices, Twitter has not complied with the new digital rules.
Government of India gives final notice to Twitter for compliance with new IT rules. pic.twitter.com/98S0Pq8g2U— ANI (@ANI) June 5, 2021
The letter stated that Twitter has so far not provided details of the Chief Compliance Officer as required under the Rules. It also highlighted that the Resident Grievance Officer and Nodal Contact Person nominated is not an employee of Twitter Inc. in India as prescribed in the Rules. The Ministry also took objection to the office address provided by Twitter, stating that the address is that of a law firm, which is also not as per the Rules.
“The refusal to comply demonstrates Twitter’s Lack of commitment and efforts towards providing a safe experience for the people of India on its platform. The world’s largest democracy has been among the first countries in the world, outside the parent country of Twiner Ito enthusiastically adopt the Twitter platform,” the letter read.
It further said, “Despite being operational in India for more than a decade, it is beyond belief that Twitter Inc. has doggedly refused to create mechanisms that will enable the people of India to resolve their issues on the platform in a timely and transparent manner and through fair processes, by India based, clearly identified resources. Leave alone proactively creating such a mechanism, Twiner Inc. is in the inglorious bracket of refusing to do so even when mandated by law.”
The Ministry stated that though the rules have been in effect from 26 May 2021, as a gesture of goodwill, Twitter is given one last notice to immediately comply with the rules, failing which the exemption from liability available under section 79 of the IT Act, 2000 shall stand withdrawn and Twiner shall be liable for consequences as per the IT Act and other penal laws of India.
Twitter had demanded 3 months additional time for compliance with new rules
Twitter had been resolutely opposing the new digital rules notified by the government of India. Even though other social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp have complied with the new laws, Twitter had last month asked the government for an additional three months for the same.
The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, which came into effect from May 25, mandates the social media intermediaries with more than 5 million users and providing messaging services to identify the first originator of problematic content that may harm the country’s interests. The companies should also appoint an Indian grievance officer to deal with the complaints.
It is notable here that the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 were issued in February this year, and social media companies have already been given 3 months time to comply with the new regulations.