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Twitter deliberately chose path of non-compliance, says India’s technology minister

Indian government claims Twitter failed to comply with Intermediary Guidelines. Twitter says it is keeping government apprised of steps being taken.

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Twitter said it was doing all it can to comply with India's Intermediary Guidelines but was facing issues due to the Covid-19 pandemic | Photo: Glenn Chapman / AFP

Government claims the social media giant failed to comply with guidelines on content accountability. Twitter says it is keeping authorities appraised of steps being taken

(AF) India’s minister for Information Technology and Communications, Ravi Shankar Prasad, has admonished Twitter, saying that the social media giant has failed to comply with the Intermediary Guidelines on content accountability.

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

He reiterated that Twitter was given multiple opportunities to comply with the Intermediary Guidelines but “it has deliberately chosen the path of non compliance”.

The Intermediary Guidelines, which were announced in February and came in effect on May 26, are aimed at regulating content on social media firms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, making them more accountable to legal requests for swift removal of posts and sharing details on the originators of messages.

The rules also require big social media companies to set up grievance redressal mechanisms and appoint new executives to coordinate with law enforcement.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment though it said on Monday it was keeping India’s technology ministry apprised of the steps it was taking.

“An interim Chief Compliance Officer has been retained and details will be shared with the Ministry directly soon,” it said. “Twitter continues to make every effort to comply with the new guidelines”.

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What this means for Twitter?

Twitter, if it loses the intermediary status, can be held responsible for tweets and the data hosted by it. It will not be considered a platform hosting other people’s views but will be editorially responsible for the content that goes out on the platform.

It will also be liable for punishment under the Indian Penal Code.

Experts believe it is only up to courts, and not the government, to decide whether companies such as Twitter remained intermediaries for alleged non-compliance such as appointment of executives.

Last month, Twitter accused the Indian government of intimidation, unreasonable censorship and threatening free speech. On June 5, it had issued a statement saying it is making all efforts to comply with the guidelines but has been unable to do so because of the global impact of Covid-19 pandemic.

Also read:

Twitter accuses India of ‘dangerous overreach’ in war of the words

  • With input from Reuters

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