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govt vs twitter: Govt sends final notice to Twitter to comply with new IT rules

The government on Saturday has sent a final notice to Twitter to comply with the new Intermediary Guidelines, failing which the micro-blogging platform will lose its intermediary status in the country and be liable for the content on its platform under the IT Act and the Indian Penal Code.

In a letter sent by the ministry of electronics and IT on Saturday, the government has said that despite two warnings in the past and a week since the new IT Rules came into effect, the company has failed to appoint a Chief Compliance Office, a Nodal Officer and a Grievance Officer who is on the rolls of Twitter in India. The company has given a contact of a law firm as its physical address in India, claimed the letter which is not as per the rules.

Twitter said it had no comments to make on the letter.

In the letter addressed to Jim Baker, Deputy General Counsel and Vice President Legal of Twitter, MeitY said that it sent two letters dated 26th May 2021 and 28th May 2021 regarding compliance with the Rules and Twitter replied on 28th May 2021 and 2nd June 2021.

“MeitY is dismayed to note that your responses to the Ministry’s letters neither address the clarifications sought by this Ministry nor indicate full compliance with the Rules… 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.”

It also said that 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 “Leave alone proactively creating such a mechanism, Twitter Inc. is in the inglorious bracket of refusing to do so even when mandated by law.”

The letter further added that “as gesture of goodwill”, Twitter Inc. is being 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with the Rules, failing which the exemption from liability available under section 79 of the IT Act, 2000 shall stand withdrawn and Twitter shall be liable for consequences as per the IT Act and other penal laws of India.

Earlier in the day, there was uproar on social media when Twitter
removed the verified blue badge from the account of vice-president Venkaiah Naidu. Company sources said that his account has been inactive since July 2020 and as per Twitter verification policy, Twitter may remove the blue verified badge and verified status if the account becomes inactive. The verified badge however has now been restored.

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