Twitter loses 'safe harbour' immunity in India: What it means
New Delhi, June 16: Twitter has lost its 'safe harbour' protection in India over non-compliance with IT rules after failing to appoint statutory officers on time, as mandated by the new Information Technology (IT) Rules, 2021.
The governemnt has cited company's failure to comply with rules to appoint certain nodal officers within India.
With this, Twitter becomes the only American platform to have lost the protective shield - granted under Section 79 of the IT Act, even though others such as, YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp and remain protected.
What is Section 79 of the IT Act?
Section 79 of the IT Act states that an intermediary will not be liable for any "third party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted by him".
The protection under Section 79 will be applicable if the intermediary in any way does not modify any information contained in the transmission, initiate the transmission of the message, or select the receiver of the message.
Twitter loses intermediary status under Section 79: What it means?
This means, the social media platform will now be liable for action under the Indian Penal Code for third party unlawful content. Twitter can now be held criminally responsible for the content on its platform.
An Example: 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.
An FIR has been filed against 9, including Twitter and some journalists in connection with an incident in Loni, Uttar Pradesh where a man was trashed and his beard was chopped off.
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 police said that there is no communal angle to this incident.
After losing 'safe harbour' immunity in India, Twitter is now open to legal action for what have been termed "inflammatory" tweets.
Deoes twitter lose its legal protections?
The "intermediary status" is not a registration that is granted by the Government. If you'd like to brush up on this, we've got you covered in an explainer we did when incorrect reports emerged over a "social media ban" earlier this month, said Internet Freedom Foundation.
"The present concerns arise from Rule 7 of the IT Rules, but Rule 7 only says that the provisions of Section 79 of the IT Act won't apply to intermediaries that fail to observe the IT Rules," it said.
"As per Section 79, intermediaries are immune from liability/penalty if they comply with legal takedown requests of user posts from courts & public authorities," it adds. According to the IFF, "intermediary" status will ultimately be decided by the court.