Twitter loses legal protection in India due to non compliance with new IT rules

Twitter has lost its legal shield in India because of its failure to comply with the new rules requiring it to appoint statutory officers based in the country, government officials said as a case was filed in Uttar Pradesh against it over Tweets on an assault that the police say attempted to trigger communal unrest, as per NDTV reports

The social media giant has not yet complied with all the provisions of the new IT rules that came into force on May 25, sources in the Ministry of Electronics and IT said. “Due to their non-compliance their protection as an intermediary is gone. Twitter is liable for penal actions against any Indian law just as any publisher is,” the sources added.

The first claim holding Twitter accountable for third party content was registered in UP’s Ghaziabad last night, in links to an alleged assault on an elderly Muslim man on June 5.  Twitter has been charged in a First Information Report (FIR) of not removing “misleading” content related to the incident.

The victim, Sufi Abdul Samad, alleged that his beard was cut off by a mob that attacked him and they forced him to chant “Vande Matram” and “Jai Shri Ram.” The UP police say the man was lying, and it was not a communal incident as suggested in tweets. According to the police, the man was attacked by six men, both Hindus and Muslims, who were furious over the amulets he had sold them.

An FIR has been filed against Twitter and several journalists for provoking “communal sentiments” with posts sharing the man’s allegations.

The police also added they had shared a press release on June 14 about Twitter providing details and denying the communal angle but despite the explanation, neither the tweets were deleted and nor did it act to remove the tweets.

“Since they do not enjoy any protection and they did not flag this video as manipulated media, they are liable for penal action,” government sources said.

The government added that Twitter is the only tech platform that has not yet complied with the new IT rules that require leading social media platforms to appoint India-based officers including a Chief Compliance Officer.

Twitter, on Tuesday had said that it had appointed an interim Chief Compliance Officer and would share details with the Ministry of IT..

A Twitter spokesperson said the platform “continues to make every effort” to comply with the new rules and is keeping the IT Ministry notified of progress during every step of the process.

Earlier, Twitter had shown concern about what it called “the potential threat to freedom of expression” when the new IT guidelines came into effect last month.

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