August 2, 2021

The WebShore

Edge of Knowledge

Twitter loses intermediary status, legal protection in India: What this means for the microblogging platform

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The ruling drew reference to Section 79 of the IT Act which directly deals with the legal protection afforded to intermediaries like Twitter.

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KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • What this essentially means is that, going forward, Twitter can be held responsible for any content posted by any of its millions of users in the country, and subsequently attract criminal charges
  • Back in February, the central government constituted new rules for social media platforms providing three months for the likes of Facebook, Twitter and other social media intermediaries to bring their India operations into compliance
  • While Facebook, Google, WhatsApp and even Koo have declared that they have complied with these provisions, Twitter has dallied on doing so

Microblogging platform, Twitter, on Tuesday, lost its status as a significant social intermediary in India for failing to comply with the country’s recently-constituted Information Technology Rules that came into effect on May 26. 

In doing so, it became the first amongst the hugely popular tech behemoths like Facebook, Google, Instagram and WhatsApp, to render itself vulnerable to charges made against it for publishing content deemed offensive, inappropriate or unlawful. 

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“It is evident that in spite of repeated indulgence granted, including a last notice on June 5 as a goodwill gesture, Twitter has not complied with the Intermediary Guidelines Rules under the IT Act having statutory force as they have been framed in exercise of powers under Section 87 of the IT Act,” said government sources. 

The ruling drew reference to Section 79 of the IT Act which directly deals with the legal protection afforded to intermediaries like Twitter. It states that ‘an intermediary shall not be liable for any third party information or data made available by it or hosted by it. Intermediaries can be online platforms that facilitate information.” 

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What this essentially means is that, going forward, Twitter can be held responsible for any content posted by any of its millions of users in the country, and subsequently attract criminal charges. 

Back in February, the central government constituted new rules for social media platforms providing three months for the likes of Facebook, Twitter and other social media intermediaries to bring their India operations into compliance. 

Among these rules was a requirement to hire and share details of a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and grievance officer with the MeitY, each of whom had to be based in India. While Facebook, Google, WhatsApp and even Koo have declared that they have complied with these provisions, Twitter has dallied on doing so. 

The new guidelines also included a traceability provision that required social media intermediaries to identify the originator of a flagged message and share his/her details with the central government within 36 hours. The traceability clause was heavily objected to, with WhatsApp taking the bold step of taking the Centre to court. 

About Post Author

Hardik Gandhi

Me Hardik Gandhi a Blogger, Web Developer Since 2014, Founder of Two IT Companies Techno Disc Web Solution and The Webshore Technologies, also provides technical SEO and Graphics Design for Businesses of all Sizes.
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