NEW DELHI: Twitter has been given final notice to comply with the new IT Rules that mandate the platform to appoint India-based compliance and grievance officers among other clauses, failing which it will face “consequences”, the government said on Saturday amid an escalating standoff with the platform.
The Union ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) has sent a strongly worded notice to Twitter Inc. on 5 June seeking compliance with the new rules. Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, were introduced earlier this year. They cover social media, over-the-top (OTT) video streaming platforms, along with publishers of news on digital media.
“Twitter Inc. is hereby 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with the Rules, failing which the exemption from liability available under section 79 of the IT Act, 2000 shall stand withdrawn and Twitter shall be liable for consequences as per the IT Act and other penal laws of India,” MeitY said.
Twitter declined to comment on the notice.
The communication comes at a time when the tensions seems to be escalating following a brief removal of “blue tick” verification badge from the personal account of Vice President Venkaiah Naidu since it had not been logged into for six months. The blue tick has now been restored.
The new IT rules, which were announced on 25 February by the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), came into effect on 26 May. Significant social media intermediaries (with username of 50 lakh), including Twitter, was given three months to comply with them.
The micro-blogging platform is yet to comply with the rules. It said that it plans to advocate changes to elements of these regulations that “inhibit open public conversation”. The company has requested the IT ministry to consider a minimum of three months extension in order for Twitter to implement the rules.
In its letter to Twitter, the ministry has said that the provisions for significant social media intermediaries under the rules have already come into force on 26 May, and it has been more than a week but Twitter has refused to comply with the provisions of these rules.
“Needless to state, such noncompliance will lead to unintended consequences including Twitter losing exemption from liability as intermediary available under section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000. This has clearly been provided under rule 7 of the aforesaid Rules,” MeitY said.
In case the government revokes Twitter’s indemnity under Section 79 of the IT Act, the micro blogging site could be held responsible for content posted by users on its platform. Currently, Twitter and other social media platforms, as intermediaries, enjoy the protection that holds users responsible for posts deemed illegal.
Twitter has been in the line of fire with the Central government over content takedown requests for tweets from various user accounts criticizing the government on multiple occasions, including the farmer protests in February.
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