The Indian election season is like no other and almost every section of the society gets to feel the effects in some form or the other. Micro-blogging site Twitter will have to be on its toes since any tweet on its platform not in compliance with the Indian IT laws could put its executives into trouble. And they have not been left in any doubt on this by the Indian government issuing an express warning that top Twitter executives could face up to 7 years’ imprisonment if they do not act by removing "objectionable and inflammatory content”.
The government claims that they have been in discussions with the Twitter management and while there is convergence on certain areas, Twitter is still to accept some compliance terms. The CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey was summoned by a parliamentary sub-committee to depose before it, but he deputed a senior executive and didn’t turn up himself.
Maybe at the hearing by the panel or subsequently, the government has issued this warning in unequivocal terms that the government is quite intent on making these companies comply with Indian laws to the last letter and spirit. There are two major things to be kept in mind by any platform that carries communications; if the platform has more than 50 lakh registered users, then it has to set up a physical office in India in the form of a permanent registered office and appoint an official as the nodal officer to be contacted when offensive content is reported on the platform.
The other aspect of compliance is, as and when any offensive content is brought to the notice of the company by the law enforcement, the company will have 72 hours to respond with the appropriate action, whether to remove the content and/or in sharing the details of the person or persons who posted the offensive content in the first place. Some of the terms being thrown around include “detrimental to the sovereignty and integrity of the country” or “has the potential to create public disorder”.
With the political atmosphere being fully charged due to the national elections being held in April and May, one may keep hearing a lot about these matters in the days to come.