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Twitter Sued In Delhi HC Over Alleged Non-compliance Of IT Rules Amid Tussle With Centre

In more trouble for Twitter, a plea was filed in the Delhi High Court against the microblogging service for purported non-compliance with the new IT rules. 

Twitter, Delhi HC

Image: AP/PTI/Unsplash

In more trouble for Twitter, a plea was filed in the Delhi High Court on Friday against the microblogging service for purported non-compliance with the new IT rules. The petition filed by advocate Amit Acharya argues that Twitter must perform its statutory and executive duties as it is a "significant social media intermediary" as per the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. Maintaining that he is deprived of his statutory right to lodge a complaint in the capacity as a Twitter user, he sought a direction for the appointment of a Residence Grievance Officer. 

Centre's scathing counter to Twitter

On Tuesday, Twitter stressed that it will strive to comply with the guidelines. Expressing commitment towards protecting freedom of speech and privacy, a Twitter spokesperson revealed that the microblogging service plans to talk to the Union government for amending certain clauses of these regulations which restrict a free conversation on the platform. Lamenting the purported use of "intimidation tactics" by the police, it back a collaborative approach to safeguard the interests of the people. 

A Twitter spokesperson stated, "Right now, we are concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression for the people we serve. We, alongside many in civil society in India and around the world, have concerns with regards to the use of intimidation tactics by the police in response to enforcement of our global Terms of Service, as well as with core elements of the new IT Rules. We plan to advocate for changes to elements of these regulations that inhibit free, open public conversation."

Taking strong objection, the Ministry of Electronics & IT dubbed the company's statement as an attempt to dictate terms to the world's largest democracy. Maintaining that these rules were framed after the widest possible consultations including with representatives of social media platforms, it affirmed commitment to the freedom of speech and expression. At the same time, it raised questions over Twitter for showing certain locations of Ladakh as China, refusing to block contents that sought to incite violence and not taking action on posts promoting vaccine hesitancy and those featuring the 'Indian variant' term. 

Here are some of the rules for social media intermediaries: 

  • Appoint a Chief Compliance Officer who shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act and Rules. Such a person should be a resident in India
  • Appoint a Nodal Contact Person for 24x7 coordination with law enforcement agencies. Such a person shall be a resident in India
  • Appoint a Resident Grievance Officer who shall perform the functions mentioned under Grievance Redressal Mechanism. Such a person shall be a resident in India
  • Publish a monthly compliance report mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints as well as details of contents removed proactively by the significant social media intermediary
  • An intermediary upon receiving actual knowledge in the form of an order by a court or being notified by the Appropriate government or its agencies through an authorized officer should not host or publish any information which is prohibited under any law in relation to the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, public order, friendly relations with foreign countries etc

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