Twitter loses legal shield in India over non-compliance of rules
Twitter has lost indemnity in India for failing to comply with the new IT rules on time, implying the company no longer enjoys legal protection from prosecution over posts from its users. Sources in the government confirmed the news to NDTV and News18. Top officials of Twitter can now face police questioning and criminal action over certain content posted on the platform, reports say.
Companies were to comply with rules by May
Twitter and other social media giants were supposed to comply with the rules by May 25, but that deadline was postponed citing the coronavirus lockdown and other challenges in complying with the provisions. Now, Twitter is the only tech company that has not complied with the rules and others such as YouTube, Facebook, and WhatsApp continue to enjoy legal protection, according to government sources.
'Twitter now liable for penal action against any Indian law'
"Due to their non-compliance their protection as an intermediary is gone. Twitter is liable for penal actions against any Indian law just as any publisher is," government sources have told NDTV.
Twitter already named in an FIR in Ghaziabad
Twitter's diminished legal status in India was highlighted last night as the company was named in a police case in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. The case is related to an alleged assault on an elderly Muslim man on June 5, pictures and videos of which had gone viral on Twitter. The company has been accused of not removing "misleading" content linked to that incident.
Yesterday, Twitter said it had appointed Compliance Officer
Just yesterday, Twitter said it had appointed an interim Chief Compliance Office and would soon share the details with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology - thus complying with one of the new rules. The company "continues to make every effort" to comply with the guidelines, a spokesperson for the company has reportedly said.
Rules had created a storm between Twitter and government
Earlier, just after the new rules were introduced, Twitter had expressed concern, calling them a "potential threat to freedom of expression" in the country. The Indian government had, in turn, criticized the social media firm. "Twitter Inc has doggedly refused to create mechanism that will enable the people of India to resolve their issues on the platform in a timely and transparent manner (sic)."
Last month, Delhi Police officials visited Twitter offices
In fact, officers of the Delhi Police had last month visited Twitter offices in Delhi to serve a notice. That case was related to an alleged "toolkit" created by the Congress party. The action came after Twitter labeled BJP spokesman Sambit Patra's tweet "manipulated media."