“It is not fair”, said the Delhi High Court while hearing the petition seeking directions to Twitter to appoint a Resident Grievance Officer as mandated under Rule 4 of the IT Rules, 2021, slams Twitter India for not informing the HC that the grievance officer they had appointed was only an interim grievance officer.
The single-judge bench comprising of Justice Rekha Palli took strong objection to the fact that Twitter never informed the High Court that the grievance officer they had appointed was only an interim grievance officer. Justice Rekha Palli pulled up Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya, appearing for Twitter India, saying: “It is not fair, Mr Poovayya. When a Senior Counsel makes a statement, I take it seriously. There is no doubt that you gave a wrong impression to the Court in the last hearing”, said, Judge Rekha Palli.
When the senior advocate Poovayya informed the court that the social media giant has no full-time resident grievance officer in accordance with the new IT Rule as of date, the Delhi HC rebuked the microblogging platform for its inability to appoint a grievance officer from June 21, when the existing officer was removed, until July 6.
“After 21 June, till July 6, the least you could have done was appoint another person. How long does your process take? If Twitter thinks it can take as long it wants in our country, I will not allow that”, said Justice Palli.
‘Come up with a clear response, otherwise, you will be in trouble’: Delhi HC gives an ultimatum to Twitter India
When Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya tried to buy more time from the HC to reportedly obtain full instructions from its head office regarding the appointment of a full-time grievance officer, ASG Chetan Sharma, appearing for Centre, took strong objection, informing the court that a three-month window was already given to Twitter India to comply with Rules, which they wasted.
Hearing the arguments of both the parties, the HC ordered: “Perusal of reply shows that as of May 31, Twitter had only appointed interim Grievance Officer, which was not brought to the notice of this Court. Sr Adv Poovayya says Twitter is in the process of appointing a Grievance Officer. But when asked when this appointment would be made, learned counsel sought time to obtain full instructions as the time zone of the company is in San Francisco”.
Giving an ultimatum to Twitter India to comply with the new IT Rule, Justice Rekha Palli said: “Come up with a clear response, otherwise you will be in trouble”.
The court listed the matter for the next hearing on July 8.
Twitter is yet to fully comply with IT Rules 2021: GOI to Delhi HC
OpIndia reported on July 5, that the central government had filed an affidavit in the Delhi HC, informing that in spite of 3 months time granted to all SSMIs (significant social media intermediaries) to comply with the IT Rules 2021, having expired on May 26, Twitter Inc has failed to fully comply with the same.
The Centre’s affidavit was in response to Twitter India’s affidavit in which it had informed the HC that the social networking platform is in the final stages of hiring a full-time resident grievance officer in accordance with the new IT Rule.
Though the microblogging site stated in court on Saturday that it is in the process of appointing a full-time resident grievance officer, that too in accordance with the new IT Rule, it was learnt that Twitter had appointed its California-based global legal policy director Jeremy Kessel as the new grievance officer for India. However, the new IT Rules call for an Indian resident for the role.
Moreover, now it has been also learnt that Twitter India not only appointed a non-Indian resident for the role but instead of appointing a full-time grievance officer it had appointed an interim officer for the role, which is not in accordance with the law either.
IT Rules 2021
The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 were issued in February this year to bring transparency into the working of social media companies and have already been given 3 months time to comply with the new regulations.
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.
The non-compliance with rules will result in these platforms losing the intermediary status that provides them immunity from liabilities over any third-party data hosted by them. In other words, they could be liable for criminal action in case of complaints.
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.