Twitter lost legal shield in India, for 3rd-party content

Twitter lost legal shield in India, for 3rd party content: Twitter faced a major loss regarding it’s legal shield in India. Twitter on its failure to appoint statutory officers. It failed to appoint them on the company’s role in line with the new IT rules, and also its top executives, including the managing director of the country. It could now face questioning by police and also criminal liability under IPC over ‘unlawful’ and ‘inflammatory’ content posted on the platform by any user.

As per some officials, Twitter has now become the first and the only American company which have lost the protective shield which was granted to them under section 79 of the IT act. The other American platforms like Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp still are protected and this has made the Twitter first American platform to lose its protective shield. As per a government source, “The company had been given extra time to comply with the guidelines, but it has failed to fall in line with the new IT Rules despite our repeated indulgence, including an extension. With this, Twitter has lost its safe harbour protection, and now stands exposed to action under the IPC for any third-party unlawful content,”

Companies were given time to appoint the officers by May 25. But they delayed it saying that Corona virus-induced lockdown and closures were responsible for that. They also blamed some other technical challenges for their failure to comply with the rules and the delaying of appointing the officers. However Twitter also had made certain appointments initially. But later, these were summarily rejected by the government as they were external legal consultants or people not directly employed on the rolls of the company’s US parent. As per some sources and some Twitter officials, Twitter has appointed an interim chief compliance officer. It is also said that the details had still not been shared with the IT ministry and this would happen anytime soon.

As per the Twitter official, “We are keeping the IT Ministry apprised of the progress at every step of the process. An interim chief compliance officer has been retained and details will be shared with the Ministry directly soon. Twitter continues to make every effort to comply with the new Guidelines,” However as per sources, the ministry hasn’t yet received any details from the giant social media platform. “We have not got any details from Twitter,” said the government source. The government doesn’t seem satisfied with the social media giant. The dissatisfaction of government could be understood that as it believed that repeated reminders and even the temporary relaxation which was extended as a goodwill gesture did not yield any good result.

On June 5, government has issued a last notice to Twitter asking to comply with the statutory provisions under the new IT Rules. Otherwise it would risk losing legal immunity from any third party content posted on the platform. The company then assured that it would make an appointment in a week and now the final deadline is also over but still the government awaits an intimation in this regard.


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