NEW DELHI: The government sources on Wednesday said that micro-blogging platform Twitter has lost its 'intermediary' status in India over non-compliance with the new IT rules for the social media companies. Sources said that Twitter is the only mainstream social media platform that has not adhered to the new digital laws.
“Twitter has lost its intermediary status in India the moment they didn't comply with new IT rules. No order will be issued to declare them non-compliant,’’ the sources said as per news agency ANI.
The sources further added that Twitter will be liable for the content when it comes to it being violative of any law. They added that ''Twitter's communication in media is very vague.'' “If they have appointed anyone, they should share the name. who is that person,’’ the sources said.
This means instead of being considered just a platform hosting content from various users, Twitter will be directly editorially responsible for posts published on its platform.
Another implication of this development is that if there is any charge against Twitter for alleged unlawful content it would be treated as a publisher – not an intermediary – and be liable for punishment under any law, including IT Act, as also the penal laws of the country.
All this came a day after Twitter said it has appointed an interim Chief Compliance Officer and the details of the person 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, mandated under the new guidelines that came into effect on May 26.
Following this, the US-based company had assured the Indian government last week that it is in the advanced stages of finalising the appointment of the chief compliance officer, and that it would submit additional details within a week.
A Twitter spokesperson said that the company is keeping the IT Ministry apprised of 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, the spokesperson added.
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 last flashpoint was the delay in complying with the IT rules that mandate large digital platforms to undertake greater due diligence as well as appoint a grievance officer, a nodal officer and a chief compliance officer. These officials have to be residents in India. Twitter has an estimated 1.75 crore users in India, as per data cited by the government recently.
The micro-blogging platform 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.
It may be recalled that the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) had on June 5 said that it had given Twitter one last notice to comply with the new rules concerning social media companies. The ministry said in the letter that the New Intermediary Guideline Rules have become effective from May 26.
"The provisions for significant social media intermediaries under the Rules have already come into force on May 26 2021 and it has been more than a week but Twitter has refused to comply with the provisions of these Rules. Needless to state, such non-compliance will lead to unintended consequences including Twitter losing exemption from liability as intermediary available under section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000. This has clearly been provided under rule 7 of the aforesaid Rules," it said.