For not complying with new IT rules, Twitter loses coveted legal shield for 3rd party content
New Delhi, June 16: Twitter has lost the safe harbour immunity in India after it failed to comply with the new IT rules, which requires it to appoint key officers in India.
The development came shortly after a case was filed in Uttar Pradesh against Twitter over posts on a viral video of an assault that the police say tried to incite communal violence.
The rules came into effect on May 25 and Twitter is yet to comply with them and due to this their protection as an intermediary has gone. Twitter is liable for penal actions against any Indian law just as any publisher is, NDTV quoting sources said.
Twitter was accused of not removing misleading content linked to an incident in Ghaziabad on June 5, in which an elderly Muslim man had alleged that his beard was cut off and he was forced to chant Jai Shri Ram and Vande Mataram by a group.
The police however said that the incident was not a communal one. In fact the man in question Sufi Abdul Samad was attacked by six men-both Hindus and Muslims as they were unhappy with the amulets he had sold to them. The FIR charged Twitter and several journalists for inciting communal sentiments with posts sharing the allegations made by the man of the assault.
Now that Twitter has not flagged the video as manipulated media, they are liable for penal action as they do not enjoy any protection.
Twitter on Tuesday said that it has appointed an interim chief compliance officer in India. In a statement, Twitter said that an interim chief compliance officer has been retained. It will share all details of the appointment with the IT ministry soon, it said and added that the company will continue to make every effort to comply with the new digital media guidelines in India.
"We will keep the IT ministry apprised of progress at every step," the spokesperson said.
The Government had issued a notice to Twitter giving it one last chance to "immediately" comply with the new IT rules and warned that failure to adhere to the norms will lead to the platform losing exemption from liability under the IT Act.
Following this, Twitter had assured the Indian government last week that it is in advanced stages of finalising the appointment of Chief Compliance Officer as required under the new IT rules, and that it will submit additional details within a week. A Twitter spokesperson on Tuesday said the company continues to make every effort to comply with the new guidelines, and is keeping the IT Ministry apprised of progress at every step of the process.
An interim Chief Compliance Officer has been retained and details will be shared with the Ministry directly soon, the spokesperson added.
The move by Twitter assumes significance as the microblogging platform has been facing heat over delay in complying with the IT rules that mandate large digital platforms to undertake greater due diligence, and make them more accountable and responsible for the content that is hosted.
As per the rules, significant social media intermediaries -- those with over 50 lakh users -- are required to appoint a grievance officer, a nodal officer and a chief compliance officer. These personnel have to be residents in India.