On June 5, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology issued ‘one last notice’ to Twitter to abide by the new IT rules for social media companies. As per the new rules, social media platforms had been directed to appoint a resident grievance officer, a chief compliance officer, and a nodal contact person.
“Twitter Inc. is hereby given one last notice to immediately comply with the Rules, failing which the exemption from liability available under section 79 of the IT Act, 2000 shall stand withdrawn and Twitter shall be liable for consequences as per the IT Act and other penal laws of India,” the letter read. It must be noted that Section 79 gives social media intermediaries immunity from legal prosecution for content posted on their platforms.
The letter further added, “The refusal to comply demonstrates Twitter’s lack of commitment and efforts towards providing a safe experience for the people of India on its platform. Despite being operational in India for more than a decade, it is beyond belief that Twitter Inc. has doggedly refused to create mechanisms that will enable the people of India to resolve their issues on the platform in a timely and transparent manner and through fair processes, by India based, clearly identified resources. Leave alone proactively creating such a mechanism, Twitter Inc. is in the inglorious bracket of refusing to do so even when mandated by law.
On May 31, the Delhi High Court had granted Twitter three weeks’ time to state on record that it has appointed a resident grievance officer and observed that it has to comply with the IT Rules, 2021, if they have not been stayed. The notice was issued following a petition which alleged that Twitter had not appointed a resident grievance officer in accordance with the new IT rules. The petitioner argued that he was unable to raise his grievance with the concerned officer as he couldn’t find the contact details on Twitter. The petition concerned ‘objectionable tweets’ made by TMC MP Mahua Moitra and journalist Swati Chaturvedi. The petitioner also argued that Twitter has appointed a US resident as a grievance officer and that isn’t in complete accordance with Rule 4 of the new IT rules.
Twitter had then told the court that the Grievance Officer had not been appointed when the petition was filed but the same had been done by the time of the hearing on May 31.