Twitter has been given “one last opportunity” to adhere to the Information Technology Rules by 4 July, or else risk losing its immunity as a social media intermediary, as reported by the Economic Times.
Immunity is given to intermediaries under the intermediary rules, which come under the IT Act, so that they are not held responsible for content posted by their users. However, the government in this case is threatening to do away with this immunity for Twitter if it does not comply with its rules, content takedown requests, etc.
A notice was sent on 6 June and then another on 9 June, which the platform did not comply with. This is the third notice, which was sent on 27 June, Monday, to the company’s Chief Compliance Officer.
This warning from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is after Twitter’s “repeated failures to act on the content take-down notices sent under Section 69 A of the IT Act” and on “non-compliance notices issued for not taking the content down,” as told to the Economic TImes by officials.
This comes in light of Twitter having blocked over 80 posts and accounts as per the government’s request, according to a document submitted by the company on the Lumen database. The notice given to Twitter from MeitY did not mention which content takedown notices in particular the company had not adhered to.
The notice also mentions “if Twitter Inc continues to be in violation of these Directions and therefore the IT Act, significant consequences under the IT Act shall prevail.”
These consequences could include loss of immunity that is granted to intermediaries, and their non-compliance can be considered as a punishable offence.
Not the First Warning
Twitter received similar notices in May 2021 from MeitY, threatening withdrawal of immunity. The notice asked the company to appoint a resident grievance officer, a chief compliance officer and a nodal contact person, in accordance with The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, also known as the IT Rules, 2021.
The IT Rules introduced last year were to replace the IT Rules, 2011, and included many changes to the definition of what an intermediary is, expanding it to include social media sites, OTT platforms, and digital news services. The rules also included many new guidelines that intermediaries would have to comply with to be able to keep their immunity, as seen above with Twitter.
The government is, however, planning to introduce amendments to the IT Rules. It held a meeting last Thursday with representatives of intermediaries, legal activists, and the industry body Internet and Mobile Association of India, according to the Hindustan Times.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology, also reportedly said that the government was working on a new IT Act since the existing one was outdated.
(With inputs from the Economic Times and the Hindustan Times)