IT rules: Twitter deliberately chose the path of defiance, says IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad

By: |
June 17, 2021 4:30 AM

Prasad said that the rule of law is the bedrock of Indian society and India’s commitment to the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech was yet again reaffirmed at the G7 summit.

It is pertinent to mention here that an FIR has been filed against Twitter over an incident in UP's Ghaziabad district where an elderly man was allegedly assaulted.It is pertinent to mention here that an FIR has been filed against Twitter over an incident in UP's Ghaziabad district where an elderly man was allegedly assaulted.

Communications and IT minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday came down heavily on Twitter for choosing the “path of deliberate defiance” by not complying with the intermediary guidelines notified by the government. In a series of tweet and a post on the homegrown microblogging platform, Koo, Prasad said that if any foreign entity believes that they can portray itself as the flag bearer of free speech in India to excuse itself from complying with the law of the land, then such attempts are misplaced.

“There are numerous queries arising as to whether Twitter is entitled to safe harbour provision. However, the simple fact of the matter is that Twitter has failed to comply with the Intermediary Guidelines that came into effect from the May 26,” Prasad said.

He asserted that Twitter was given multiple opportunities to comply with the rules, but deliberately chose the path of non-compliance.

The government’s position is that Twitter being a significant social media intermediary was legally required to comply with the new Intermediary Rules by May 25, 2021, after the expiry of three months’ time given to all intermediary after notification of Rules, but it did not comply. The lapse on the part of Twitter, according to the government is that it has not appointed a chief compliance officer (CCO), nodal contact person (NCP) and resident grievance officer (RGO) as required by the law.

As reported by FE, as a result of not complying with the new Information Technology Rules, Twitter has lost its intermediary status in India. This means that in the event of any charge against it, the microblogging site would be treated as a publisher and not an intermediary. As a result, it would be liable for punishment under the IT Act as also other prevailing penal laws.

Intermediaries are provided exemptions and certain immunity from liabilities for any third-party content and data hosted by them under Section 79 of the IT Act. It is this exemption and immunity which Twitter has lost due to non-compliance of the new IT Rules.

It is pertinent to mention here that an FIR has been filed against Twitter over an incident in UP’s Ghaziabad district where an elderly man was allegedly assaulted.

“What is perplexing is that Twitter fails to address the grievances of users by refusing to setting up process as mandated by the law of the land. Additionally, it chooses a policy of flagging manipulated media, only when it suits, its likes and dislikes,” the minister said.

He said that the culture of India varies like its large geography and in certain scenarios, with the amplification of social media, even a small spark can cause a fire, especially with the menace of fake news. “This was one of the objectives of bringing the Intermediary Guidelines,” Prasad said. He said that Indian companies be it pharma, IT or others that go to do business in USA or in other foreign countries, voluntarily follow the local laws. “Then why are platforms like Twitter showing reluctance in following Indian laws designed to give voice to the victims of abuse and misuse?” the minister asked.

Prasad said that the rule of law is the bedrock of Indian society and India’s commitment to the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech was yet again reaffirmed at the G7 summit.

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