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Govt serves 'one last notice' to Twitter to 'immediately' comply with IT rules

US tech giant has not submitted details about the chief compliance officer

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New Delhi: The government on Saturday issued 'one last notice' to Twitter Inc asking it to immediately comply with the new IT rules, failing which it could face stern action and lose exemption from liability under section 79 of the IT Act, 2000. This essentially means that the platform could be held responsible for content posted by the users.

“The provisions for significant social media intermediaries under the Rules have already come into force on 26 May and it has been more than a week but Twitter has refused to comply with the provisions of these rules,” the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) wrote to Twitter's deputy general counsel, Jim Baker on Saturday.

According to the ministry, the US company has not informed about the details of the chief compliance officer. The resident grievance officer and nodal contact person nominated is not an employee of Twitter Inc in India, as required by rules. Furthermore, the office address of Twitter Inc shared by the company is that of a law firm in India, which is also not as per rules.

Twitter’s refusal to comply with the rules demonstrated its “lack of commitment and efforts towards providing a safe experience for the people of India on its platform," it said. The ministry highlighted that the US tech giant has been operational in India for over a decade and “it is beyond belief that it has still doggedly refused to create mechanism 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."

Though with effect from 26 May, “consequences follow” given Twitter’s non-compliance with rules, however, the ministry wrote, as a “gesture of goodwill”, it is giving Twitter Inc one last notice to immediately comply with the rules, failing which it will be liable for consequences as per the IT Act and other penal laws of India.

The new IT (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) rules, 2021, recommend a three-tier mechanism for regulation of all online media. As per the rules, each significant social media intermediary is required to appoint a chief compliance officer, a nodal contact person for 24x7 coordination with law enforcement agencies and a resident grievance officer. All three should be resident Indians.

The intermediaries are also required to prominently publish on their website, app or both, the name of the grievance officer and his/her contact details as well as the mechanism by which a user or a victim may make a complaint. The grievance officer would be required to acknowledge the complaint within 24 hours and resolve it within 15 days from its receipt. The government has also asked the significant social media intermediaries providing services primarily in the nature of messaging "to enable identification of the first originator of the information.”

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