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Twitter in compliance with IT Rules, 2021: Centre to Delhi High Court

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The Centre on Friday informed the Delhi High Court that microblogging site Twitter is in compliance with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

The Centre submitted an affidavit before the Single Judge Bench of Justice Rekha Palli on a petition filed by a practising advocate, against non-compliance by Twitter Inc with the IT Rules, 2021.

The development came after the Union government, on the last date of hearing on August 10, was granted time to file a response in relation to Twitter’s affidavit stating that Twitter Inc has made permanent appointments to the post of Chief Compliance Officer, Resident Grievance Officer and Nodal Contact Person, as mandated by the IT Rules 2021.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), in the affidavit, submitted, “Twitter has appointed the personnel in compliance to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.”

The Centre drew the attention of Court to the fact that Twitter is also responsible to publish a physical contact address in India on its public platforms, for the purpose of receiving communications addressed to it; as also to enable a mechanism that could keep a track of the status of every complaint or grievance made to it. In addition, Twitter is also responsible to submit compliance reports as mandated in IT Rules, 2021, added the Union government.

As per the affidavit,

“The IT Rules, 2021 is a law of the land. Twitter is mandatorily required to comply with the IT Rules 2021 in its entirety. Any non-compliance amounts to a breach of the provisions of the IT Rules, 2021 thereby leading to Twitter losing its immunity conferred under section 79(1) of the IT Act, 2000………… Further, as per rule 7, failure to observe the IT Rules, 2021 will result in the non-applicability of Section 79(1) of the IT Act, 2000 to such an intermediary and the intermediary shall become liable for any punishment under any law for the time being in force in respect of the offending content.”

A petition has been filed by one Amit Acharya, through Advocates Akash Vajpai and Manish Kumar alleging that Twitter has not complied with the Centre’s IT Rules to appoint a Resident Grievance Officer; and sought directions to the social media platform to comply with the same, without any delay.

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The plea pointed out that the IT Rules came into effect from February 25 this year, wherein the Centre granted three months to every social media intermediary, including Twitter, to comply with them. In his plea, Acharya said he came to know about the alleged non-compliance when he tried to lodge a complaint against a couple of tweets.

Under the new digital rules, social media companies like Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter have been asked to identify within 36 hours the originator of a flagged message as well as conduct additional due diligence, including the appointment of a Chief Compliance Officer, Nodal Contact Person and Resident Grievance Officer.

On the last date of hearing, Twitter acknowledged that it has appointed Chief Compliance Officer, Nodal Contact Person, and Resident Grievance Officer with permanent status and not as “contingent workers”, in lieu of the objection raised by the Court on ‘contingent’ appointments made earlier by Twitter. The matter is fixed for next hearing on October 8.

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