Twitter Loses Legal Shield in India

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Twitter, the American microblogging and social networking service, has lost its legal protection in India from prosecution over the posts of users because it failed to comply with new digital rules enacted in the country. Government sources said cases were filed in Uttar Pradesh against the social media giant over tweets that the police say attempted to make communal trouble.

The sources in the Ministry of IT and Electronics stated that Twitter has not complied with all the provisions of the rules that came into force on May 25 till now. Sources said that due to their non-compliance, their protection as an intermediary is gone and Twitter has to face liability for violating any Indian law just like any other publisher. While almost all digital platforms have sent in their compliance reports to the Ministry of IT and Electronics, Twitter has not yet complied with the provisions of the new IT Rules 2021. They are yet to appoint the key officials mandated by the rule namely Compliance Officer, Nodal Officer and Grievance Redressal Officer.

The first case in which Twitter might face charges for third party content was filed in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad in connection with an alleged assault on an elderly Muslim man on June 5.  Twitter has been accused in a First Information Report (FIR) of not deleting “misleading” content linked to this incident. Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is the Union Minister of IT, explained the move against Twitter by saying that Twitter was given “multiple opportunities to comply” but it intentionally chose not to comply with the rules

He added that it was shocking by Twitter, which portrays itself as the flag bearer of free speech, chooses the path of intentional resistance when it comes to the Intermediary Guidelines. Furthermore, what is confusing is that Twitter has failed to address the grievances of users by denying to set up process as mandated by the law of the country. When the new rules came into effect in May, Twitter initially expressed its concern about what they referred it as the potential threat to freedom of expression. The government already gave Twitter a stern “last notice” to fall in line earlier this month.


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