The ministry also responded to a parliamentary question on FIRs filed against Twitter, clarifying that it has no plans to block social media platforms.
Although Twitter has appointed a Chief Compliance Officer and a Resident Complaints Officer, as required by the Information Technology Rules (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Code of Ethics) of 2021, Twitter has still not named a Node Contact Person, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar briefed Parliament in response to a question in the Rajya Sabha.
“On that day (May 26th, when the IT rules came into full effect in 2021), Twitter was not compliant because it had not appointed a Chief Compliance Officer, a Nodal Contact Person and a Resident Grievance Officer according to the rules. They then appointed a Chief Compliance Officer and a Resident Grievance Officer as a conditional agreement. Twitter has also not appointed a Nodal contact person and the matter is secondary, ”said Chandrasekhar in a written response to a question from Rajya Sabha MP Amee Yajnik.
Why is it important? Twitter has been grappling with the government for the past few months. Since the IT rules came into force, it has taken the microblogging platform more than a month to partially comply with the rules. Meanwhile, several lawsuits have been brought against Twitter Inc and Twitter India for “offensive” content on the platform. The government during a high court in Delhi Listen, stated that the platform’s Safe Harbor immunity was lifted under the IT Act 2000, which means that Twitter can be held liable for the content on its platform.
When responding to another parliamentary question about whether an “FIR was filed against Twitter,” Chandrasekhar said: “MeitY is not involved in filing FIR against Twitter“. On a further parliamentary question as to whether Twitter “was found in anti-national work”, the Minister of State said: “Meity will not be brought to the attention of Meity by any such action”.
A brief timeline of the tussle between Twitter and the Indian government
- May 25, 2021: It is the last date to comply with the IT rules 2021; Twitter has yet to appoint a Complaints Officer, Chief Compliance Officer, and Node Contact Person as per the rules.
- May 28, 2021: Twitter’s failure to comply with the rules is addressed in a petition filed against the platform by attorney Amit Acharya in the Delhi High Court. During the process, Twitter announced that Dharmendra Chatur has appointed an interim complaints officer.
- June 5, 2021: Government of India criticizes Twitter for this appointment, pointing out that Chatur is not a direct contributor to Twitter, but an advocate. The government also advises that the address of the node contact person (whose details must be provided under IT Rules 2021) is that of a law firm, not Twitter.
- June 16, 2021: Several reports, citing unnamed government sources, state that Twitter has lost its intermediary status for failure to comply with IT rules.
- June 28, 2021: Chatur, the interim complainant, resigns from his position. Reports of the loss of Safe Harbor provisions on Twitter are confirmed by the Government of India in an affidavit filed in the Delhi High Court.
- July 11, 2021: Twitter appoints one interim appeal Officer and Interim Chief Compliance Officer. It also publishes a regular compliance report in accordance with the IT rules 2021.
What do the IT rules require?
The IT rules require social media intermediaries to:
- Appoint key leadership roles: Major social media intermediaries (with more than 50 registered Lakh users) are required to appoint a Chief Compliance Officer, Node Contact Person, and Resident Complaints Officer, all of whom are India based and employees of the platform
- Deactivate content within 36 hours of an official order: The regulations also require intermediaries to provide identity verification information or assist a government agency with crime prevention and investigation no later than 72 hours after receiving a lawful order. They must also keep a record of disabled content for 180 days.
- Proactively identify and remove content with automated tools
- Publish regular compliance reports
The government has no plans to block any social media platform
In response to another question, this time from Rajya Sabha MP Kirodi Lal Meena, Chandrasekhar said the Indian government has no plan to ban social media platforms.
Under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act of 2000 government blocks harmful online content in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, Defense of India, state security, friendly relations with foreign countriesit or public policy or to prevent incitement to commit a recognizable criminal offense in connection with the above. Currently, The government has no plans to block any social media platform in the country – Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MoS MeitY
It’s important to note that after May 26, the final IT rules compliance date in 2021, there was widespread speculation that Twitter would be banned from India.
Full text of the questions and answers
Question about the social media ban
Can the Minister for Electronics and Information Technology say:(on) if government is deliberately from the fact the some Social media Platforms are allegedly attempt to to destroy of the country Democracy;
(B) if so, the details from that;
(C) if government has written any Letter to the Social media management Authorities, if so, the details from that; and
(D) if government has any to plan to Ban any Social media platform In the Country, if so, the details from that?
(on) and (B): Indian democracy has it is Bedrock In it is Constitution and constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights for every citizen. No social media platform or anything else The intermediary can do thattry our democracy. Our democracy stands up to every test and Challenge posed. However, it has been found that some users abuse social media Platforms to generate hatred and evil–Will among the people of our country. Government receives different grievafrom users about this type of hateful content and respond to it in a reasonable way.
(C): government regularly interacts with Social media Intermediary on different subjects including posting notices to keep these intermediaries safe and accountable to users.
(D): Under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act of 2000 government blocks harmful online content in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, Defense of India, state security, friendly relations with foreign countriesit or public policy or to prevent incitement to commit a recognizable criminal offense in connection with the above. Currently, The government has no plans to block any social media platform in the country.
Question on twitter
Can the Minister for Electronics and Information Technology say:
(a) whether organizations like Twitter have recently broken the rules;
(b) if so, any countermeasures taken by the government to date;
(c) whether an FIR has been filed against Twitter, (d) whether an act of subversive work has been detected by Twitter and (e) if so, the details of it?
(a) and (b): The social media platforms such as Twitter are intermediaries within the meaning of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000. In order to ensure the accountability of social media platforms to the users and to ensure improved user security Government’s Information Technology Rules (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Code of Ethics), 2021, which will come into full effect from May 26, 2021 as required by the rules. They then appointed a Chief Compliance Officer and a Resident Grievance Officer as a conditional agreement. Twitter has also not named a Nodal contact and the matter is under court.
Failure to comply with rule 7 of the above rules will apply and intermediaries will lose their exemption under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act of 2000.
(c): “Police” and “Public Order” are subjects of the state. Complaints reported against Twitter are processed by the respective law enforcement authorities of the states / Union areas. MeitY is not involved in filing FIR against Twitter.
(d) and (e): MeitY will not be made aware of such a lawsuit by Twitter.
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