Social Media

Twitter has failed to comply with the Intermediary Guidelines: Prasad

S Ronendra Singh New Delhi | Updated on June 16, 2021

MeitY has termed the unilateral action by Twitter as “an effort to influence the fair investigation process and a clear overreach, which is totally unwarranted”

Twitter has already lost 'intermediary' status: MeitY official

The government on Wednesday confirmed that micro-blogging platform Twitter has already lost its status as 'intermediary' for failing to comply with the new IT Rules.

"Twitter has already lost the status (intermediary), which means they are liable for any unlawful post on their platform...if they violate any laws, then as per that law, action can be taken," a senior official at the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) told BusinessLine.

The official said the government has not received any information about appointment of a Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) yet and neither has Twitter published the same on its website. “If they have appointed someone as CCO, they should publish that name

The issue was raised in public by Minister of Communications and IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad, who said: “There are numerous queries as to whether Twitter is entitled to safe harbour provision. However, the simple fact of the matter is that Twitter has failed to comply with the Intermediary Guidelines that came into effect on May 26. Further, it was given multiple opportunities to comply with the same, however, it has deliberately chosen the path of non-compliance.”

In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Prasad said Twitter, which portrays itself as the flag-bearer of free speech, chooses the path of deliberate defiance when it comes to Intermediary Guidelines.

“Further, what is perplexing is that Twitter fails to address the grievances of users by refusing to set up process as mandated by the law of the land. Additionally, it chooses a policy of flagging manipulated media, only when it suits, its likes and dislikes,” he said.

Prasad also reacted to the incident in Uttar Pradesh wherein a man named Abdul Samad, claimed in a video that his beard was cut off and he was forced to chant "Vande Mataram" and "Jai Shri Ram" after the accused took him away to a forested area and locked him up in a hut.

A first information report (FIR) has been filed in Ghaziabad against Twitter, several journalists and Congress leaders over ‘provoking communal sentiments’ after the elderly Muslim man alleged that he was assaulted on June 5.

“What happened in UP was illustrative of Twitter’s arbitrariness in fighting fake news. While Twitter has been over enthusiastic about its fact checking mechanism, its failure to act in multiple cases like that in UP is perplexing and indicates its inconsistency in fighting misinformation,” Prasad tweeted.

However, from Twitter’s side, it argues that none of the social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram or YouTube, have published the name of CCOs on their websites.

“Everyone has published details of the grievance officers only,” a source at Twitter said, adding that ‘CCO details are not shared in public domain’

Chief Compliance Officer

We are keeping the MeitY apprised of the progress at every step of the process. An interim Chief Compliance Officer has been retained and details will be shared with the Ministry directly soon,” a Twitter spokesperson said, adding that Twitter continues to make every effort to comply with the new Guidelines.

According to cyber law experts, Twitter will not lose its intermediary status by such decisions.

“They (Twitter) will not stop being an intermediary. They lose the exemptions or protections that extend to Intermediaries under Section 79 IT Act. The risk with that is that in effect they can be held liable for illegal acts committed on their platform,” N S Nappinai, Advocate, Supreme Court and Founder- Cyber Saathi, said.

“That does not mean they ‘will’ be convicted or something. It just means they may be involved in investigations, inquiries and possibly trials, in which they will have to prove their innocence to avoid jail terms,” she added.

 

Published on June 16, 2021

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