Twitter loses `safe haven` shield in India due to compliance with IT rules

New Delhi: Twitter has lost ‘safe haven’ protection in India due to non-compliance with IT rules and failure to hire key personnel assigned under the new guidelines, despite repeated reminders, and the platform will now be liable for actions under the Indian Penal Code for illegal content by third parties, sources said. Earlier this month, the government gave Twitter one last chance to comply with the new IT rules, which went into effect on May 26, and issued a stern warning that compliance with the standards would lead to platform release loss of liability under the IT Act. Sources in the government confirmed that Twitter had lost the immunity of safe haven because it did not comply with the IT rules and appointed the key managers according to the new guidelines. While the resident grievance officer and the nodal contact person nominated by the company are not an employee of Twitter Inc in India, the Ministry also did not receive any specific information about the head’s compliance or the name or details. , sources said. Another source said that Twitter’s intermediary status and the legal shield he had were automatically terminated on May 26 because the new guidelines were not met. The same goes for any other social media platform that does not comply with the IT rules.


The government has confronted Twitter over several cases in recent months, including during the agricultural protest and later when it described political posts of various leaders of the ruling BJP party as ‘manipulated media’, which caused a sharp reprimand from the center. The latest flashpoint was the delay in complying with the IT rules that require large digital platforms to conduct larger due diligence investigations, as well as the appointment of a grievance officer, a nodal officer and a chief compliance officer. These staff must be residents of India.

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The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) said on June 5 that Twitter’s refusal to comply with the rules, the microblogging site shows “the lack of commitment and efforts to provide a safe experience for the people of India on its platform” to offer “. The IT ministry earlier questioned Twitter about providing compliance officer information as required by the rules. The resident grievance officer and the nodal contact person nominated by the company are also not an employee of Twitter Inc in India as prescribed in the rules, the ministry noted. Twitter did not comment on inquiries about the loss of intermediary status on inquiries. Twitter said on Tuesday it had appointed an interim chief for compliance and the officer’s details would soon be shared directly with the IT ministry. The US company assured the Indian government last week that it was at an advanced stage of finalizing the appointment of the chief of staff and that he would submit additional details within a week. That deadline ended Monday. A Twitter spokesman said Tuesday that the company is still striving to meet the new guidelines, and that it is keeping the IT ministry informed of progress in each step of the process. Meanwhile, the government has argued that the office address in India mentioned by Twitter is that of a law firm, which is also not according to the rules. “Despite having been operating in India for more than a decade, it can not be convinced that Twitter Inc. wholeheartedly refuses to create a mechanism that will enable the people of India to put their problems on the platform.” in a timely and transparent manner and by resolving fair processes. India-based, clearly identified sources, ‘the IT ministry said in a statement earlier this month. The ministry also said on June 5, that although with effect from May 26, 2021, ‘consequences will follow’ given Twitter’s non-compliance ‘, but as a gesture of goodwill, Twitter Inc. will be given a final notice to immediately comply with the rules, failing which the release of liability is available will be withdrawn and Twitter will be liable for consequences under the IT Act and other penal laws of India. “ The ministry warned Twitter that non-compliance would lead to ‘unintended consequences’, including that Twitter would lose exemption from liability as an intermediary under the IT Act.