The Centre on Saturday, issued “one last notice” to Twitter over appointing India-based officers as per the country’s new rules for social media companies, failing which, the government said, it will face “consequences” as per the IT Act and other penal laws.
This comes amid an escalating standoff between the central government and the microblogging site.
“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with the Rules, failing which the exemption from liability available under section 79 of the IT Act, 2000 shall stand withdrawn and Twitter shall be liable for consequences as per the IT Act and other penal laws of India,” read the letter from Rakesh Maheshwari, Group Coordinator, Cyber law, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. Section 79 gives social media intermediaries immunity from legal prosecution for content posted on their platforms.
The notice signed by Rakesh Maheshwari, group coordinator of cyber law, Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, added: “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. 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, Twitter Inc. is in the inglorious bracket of refusing to do so even when mandated by law.”
As per the new guidelines issued in February, social media platforms had been asked to appoint a resident grievance officer, a chief compliance officer, and a nodal contact person as required by the government by May 26.
The move comes on a day when Twitter had briefly removed the “blue tick” verification badge from the personal account of Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and other leaders also lost the verification badge.
Twitter has been involved in a tussle with the Indian government since February after the Union technology ministry asked it to block content alleging PM Modi’s administration was trying to silence criticism related to farmers’ protests in the country.
Following that, India announced new rules that aim to make social media firms more accountable to legal requests for swift removal of posts and require the appointment of an Indian grievance officer to deal with complaints.
Last month, Twitter’s classification as “manipulated media” of the posts by BJP leaders had drawn a sharp response from the government. The controversy led to Twitter flagging concerns about freedom of expression and the safety of its staff in India after Delhi police visited its offices in the national capital.