Microblogging platform Twitter was served one final notice by Centre which asked the platform to “immediately comply with the IT rules”, and further promised penal action if the company failed to do so. Twitter’s past month has been turbulent in India. The company’s office was first raided by Delhi Police in the ‘manipulated media’ controversy. On Saturday, June 5, the company was again criticized by the Centre for removing the ‘verified’ badge from the account of Indian Vice President.
In the row between social media platforms and Centre due to the IT Rules 2021, microblogging platform Twitter was served “one last notice” by the Indian government. The notice asked the platform to appoint Indian officers as per the IT Rules, failing which, the notice said, the platform will face “consequences”.
The notice was signed by Rakesh Maheshwari, MeitY’s Cyber Law group coordinator. The letter read-
“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with the Rules, failing which the exemption from liability available under section 79 of the IT Act, 2000 shall stand withdrawn and Twitter shall be liable for consequences as per the IT Act and other penal laws of India.”
For the uninitiated, the Section 77 gives social media platforms an immunity from legal action the government may take against the content shared on them. As of now, all social media platforms with users over 50 lakh enjoy the said immunity.
Government of India gives final notice to Twitter for compliance with new IT rules. pic.twitter.com/98S0Pq8g2U
— ANI (@ANI) June 5, 2021
Twitter “demonstrated lack of commitment”
The letter by MeiTY said that the company has demonstrated its lack of commitment by not complying with the rules.
“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,” the letter read.
Indian citizens “deserve and demand” grievance addressing
The notice also claimed that Indian citizens “deserve and demand” grievance redressal mechanism.
“The people of India, who use the Twitter platform, deserve and demand a fair mechanism to address their grievances and resolve their disputes. Users who are abused on the platform or are harassed or are subject to defamation or sexual abuse or become victims or a whole range of other abusive content must get a redressal mechanism that the same people of India have created through a due process of law,”
-said the notice.
Last Notice Given as ‘Good Faith’
The notice concluded with the Indian government saying that the company is given the last notice as a “gesture of goodwill”.
“Though with effect from 26th May 2021, in view of Twitter’s non-compliance with the Rules as noted above, consequences follow. However, as a gesture of goodwill, 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,”
-the letter said.
Twitter’s turbulent year so far
Lately, Twitter has been under a lot of scrutiny from the Centre. The issue began when the company was forced by the Centre to block certain content that was against the Prime Minister Modi government and for the farmers in their efforts to revoke the Farm Laws.
After the protest subsided, the Indian government introduced the IT Rules 2021, aimed at making social media platforms more accountable in case of objectionable content being posted. Although most social media platforms like Facebook, Google and others have steered clear and have accepted to comply with the law, Twitter has only appointed a temporary Grievance Redressal Officer and has yet to appoint a nodal officer and a compliance officer.