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Twitter Loses Legal Protection Over Non-Compliance: Govt Confirms

MeitY said that since Twitter has lost its intermediary status, it can no longer avail safe harbour protection.

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Tech and Auto
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<div class="paragraphs"><p>The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on Monday, 28 June, said that Twitter can no longer avail the legal protection provided to Internet intermediaries under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act.</p></div>
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The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on Monday, 28 June, confirmed that since Twitter has lost its intermediary status, it cannot now avail the legal protection provided to Internet intermediaries under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act.

According to an Indian Express report, MeitY, having deliberated upon the matter with legal experts and various other departments of the government, has concluded that Twitter should no longer benefit from "safe harbour" protection.

“It is up to the courts to decide finally whether Twitter will still enjoy safe harbour status or not. As far as we (the IT Ministry) are concerned, our view is now decided. They (Twitter) have till date not complied with multiple norms,” a senior government official told the daily.

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Twitter Loses Intermediary Status

Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad had on 17 June said that Twitter lost its intermediary status and has become liable under Indian laws, including the Indian Penal Code.

Earlier this year, the Indian government had announced new IT rules for regulation of digital news organisations, OTT platforms, and social media by the government.

The new IT rules, which came into effect on 25 May, made it mandatory for the company to have a grievance officer to address complaints from the users.

A week after the new regulations came into effect, Twitter announced the appointment of its interim grievance redressal officer. The company said that it was working on finalising permanent appointments for the posts of nodal officer, chief compliance officer and resident grievance officer as mandated by the IT rules. However, no information to this effect was released by the platform subsequently.

“We gave them (Twitter) three months. Others have followed, they haven't. Rule 7 of the (IT) guidelines says that if you don't comply then under Section 79, then you may lose intermediary status and may become liable to other laws, including penal laws of the country,” Prasad told news agency ANI on 17 June.

The Ongoing Tussle Between Twitter and the Centre

Twitter's forfeiting of its legal protection under the IT Act comes at a time when the micro-blogging platform is embroiled in a long-drawn feud with the Union government.

Most recently, Twitter came under the fire for showing a distorted map of India under the Tweep Life section of its website on Monday, 28 June. The map, which showed a distorted Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as a separate country, detached from India, was removed by the microblogging platform from its website on the same day.

Twitter India Managing Director Manish Maheswari has been booked in Uttar Pradesh over the incident, ANI reported.

The Twitter India MD is also under the scanner in a case involving posts on the alleged communal assault on a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh’s Loni district earlier in June.

The UP Police had sent a legal notice to Maheshwari in connection with the case. But the Karnataka High Court granted interim relief to him last week, and directed the Ghaziabad Police not to take any coercive steps.

(With inputs from The Indian Express and ANI)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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