On 5 June, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) had sent its final notice to Twitter over non-compliance of the new IT rules, warning it again of penal action in case the US-headquartered social media platform failed to comply with the norms. The notice sent by the ministry noted that in view of Twitter Inc’s non-compliance with the rules, which came into effect on May 26, 2021, “consequences follow”.
Companies had to originally appoint the officers by May 25, but many were delayed as they blamed the lockdown and other technical challenges for their failure to comply with the rules. Meanwhile, Twitter on Tuesday said it has appointed an interim Chief Compliance Officer and the details of the official will be shared with the IT Ministry directly soon.
The Government had issued a notice to Twitter giving it one last chance to “immediately” comply with the new IT rules and warned that failure to adhere to the norms will lead to the platform losing exemption from liability under the IT Act.
Twitter becomes the only American platform to have lost the protective shield – approved under Section 79 of the IT Act, even though others such as YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp remain protected. After not being able to appoint statutory officers on time, Twitter has lost the coveted “safe harbour” immunity in India.
The reports says that the company’s top executives, including the country managing director, could now face police questioning and criminal liability over ‘unlawful’ and ‘inflammatory’ content posted on the platform by any user.
Twitter had said that as per the new guidelines, it has appointed a Nodal Contact Person and a Resident Grievance Office on a contractual basis, and the company is making recruitments to fill the positions on a permanent basis.
Twitter had assured the Indian government last week that it is in the advanced stages of finalising the appointment of the chief compliance officer as required under the new IT rules, and that it will submit additional details within a week. On Tuesday, a Twitter spokesperson said the company continues to make every effort to comply with the new guidelines and is keeping the IT Ministry apprised of progress at every step of the process.
An interim Chief Compliance Officer has been retained and details will be shared with the Ministry directly soon, the spokesperson added. The move by Twitter assumes significance as the microblogging platform has been facing heat over delay in complying with the IT rules that mandate large digital platforms to undertake greater due diligence, and make them more accountable and responsible for the content that is hosted. As per the rules, Twitter is required to appoint a grievance officer, a nodal officer and a chief compliance officer. These personnel have to be residents in India.