The Union government’s notice states that Twitter’s responses to the ministry’s letters “neither address the clarifications sought by this Ministry nor indicate full compliance with the IT Rules.”

A person holding up a phone with Twitter's profile open on Twitter
Atom IT rules Saturday, June 05, 2021 - 13:57

The Union government on Saturday gave Twitter ‘one last notice’ as a gesture of goodwill to comply with the IT rules which came into force on May 26. Addressed to Jim Baker, Deputy General Counsel and Vice President Legal, the notice states that Twitter’s responses to the ministry’s letters on May 26 and May 28 “neither address the clarifications sought by this Ministry nor indicate full compliance with the Rules.”

The notice by the Ministry of Environment and Information Technology (Meity) stated that it is “clear” from the responses that Twitter has not informed the government about the details of the Chief Compliance Officer as required under the Rules. “Further, Resident Grievance Officer and Nodal Contact Person nominated by you is not an employee of Twitter Inc. in India as prescribed in the rules. The office address of Twitter Inc. as mentioned by you is that of a law firm in India, which is also not as per the rules,” the notice stated. 

Twitter had named Dharmendra Chatur as interim resident grievance officer for India. Chatur is a partner designate at the law firm representing the company in the Delhi High Court, and the address is that of the law firm.  

Warning Twitter of consequences, the notice said it has been more than a week that the rules have come into force and Twitter has refused to comply. “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,” the notice stated. 

This pertains to the idea of safe harbour, where Twitter would so far not be liable for things its users have said as long as they meet certain requirements. An intermediary would not be liable for any third-party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted, which would be pulled.

The notice states that Twitter’s refusal to comply demonstrates its “lack of commitment and efforts towards providing a safe experience for the people of India on its platform.”

“The world's largest democracy has been among the first countries in the world, outside the parent country of Twitter Inc., to enthusiastically adopt the Twitter 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,” it said.

It further added that users who are abused or harassed must get a redressal mechanism. “However, as gesture of goodwill, 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,” it stated.

Read: New IT rules: Will Facebook and Twitter get banned? What experts say as deadline ends

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