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Twitter loses legal protection in India for failure to comply with new IT law

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

Social networking service Twitter has lost the legal immunity it enjoys in India over its failure to comply with the new IT rules, reported ANI.

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Quoting a government source, the news agency said that Twitter is the only mainstream social media platform that has not adhered to the law.

If its intermediary status is taken away, Twitter would be treated as a publisher and be liable for punishment under any law if a case is filed against it for alleged unlawful content.

The microblogging site’s top executives, including the country managing director, also stand to face police questioning and criminal liability under IPC.

The development comes hours after the Ghaziabad Police filed an FIR against nine entities, including Twitter India, in connection with an where a man was thrashed and his beard chopped off in Loni.

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Police said that a communal colour was given to the incident without verification of facts and said that Twitter did nothing to prevent the video from getting viral.

Twitter Chief Compliance Officer

Twitter had earlier stated that it has appointed an interim Chief Compliance Officer and the details of the official will be shared directly with the IT Ministry soon.

The move came after the government had given one last chance to Twitter to comply with the new IT rules, as the microblogging platform had not made immediate appointments of key personnel.

The US-based company had assured the Indian government last week that it is in the advanced stages of finalising the appointment of a chief compliance officer, and that it would submit additional details within a week.

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A Twitter spokesperson on Tuesday said the company continues to make every effort to comply with the new guidelines and is keeping the IT ministry apprised of progress at every step of the process.

Twitter has had several faceoffs with the Indian government over the past months, including during the farmers’ protest and later when it tagged political posts of several leaders of the ruling party BJP as “manipulated media”, triggering a sharp rebuke from the Centre.

The micro-blogging site has an estimated 1.75 crore users in India, as per data cited by the government recently.

It has stated on its website that India is an important market for the company and is among the countries in which it is piloting a new approach of building an in-market team to “locally tailor” its global product to the needs of the region.

What the new IT rules say

The new digital rules require significant social media intermediaries — providing services primarily in the nature of messaging — to enable identification of the “first originator” of the information that undermines the sovereignty of India, the security of the state, or public order.

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It say that significant social media intermediaries, those with more than 50 lakh users, are required to appoint a grievance officer, a nodal officer and a chief compliance officer. The personnel have to be residents in India.

Social media firms will also have to take down flagged content within 36 hours, and remove within 24 hours content that is flagged for issues such as nudity and pornography.

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