Amid an escalating deadlock, the Indian government has issued a final notice to social media giant Twitter to appoint Indian officers after new IT rules were implemented for social media companies, failing which will result in “consequences”.
“Twitter Inc. is hereby given one last notice to immediately comply with the Rules, failing which the exemption from liability available under Section 79 of the IT Act, 2000 shall stand withdrawn and Twitter shall be liable for consequences as per the IT Act and other penal laws of India,” the government said in an official notification.
Notably, this comes after the removal of ‘blue tick’ from Vice President Venkaiah Naidu’s personal Twitter handle due to inactivity. It was however restored later.
The move has further deteriorated ties between the Indian government and Twitter who have been in a standoff over a range of issues including new IT rules laid down by the government and actions taken on certain BJP leader’s tweets.
The government’s threat about revoking Twitter’s indemnity under Section 79 of the IT Act means that the platform could be held responsible for content posted by users. Currently, Twitter and other social media platforms, as intermediaries, enjoy the protection that holds users responsible for posts deemed illegal.
The battle between the government and Twitter has been raging since February after the former asked to block content alleging PM Modi’s administration was trying to silence criticism related to farmer protests in the country.
The new IT rules that enables social media companies to be more accountable to legal requests for quick removal of posts. It also aims to appoint an Indian grievance officer to deal with complaints.
Last month, Twitter classification as “manipulated media” of the posts by BJP leaders targeting the opposition Congress drew a sharp response from the government, which sternly asked the site to undo the label, calling it “an overreach and prejudicial”.
Meanwhile, Facebook-owned WhatsApp also expressed concern on the new IT rules saying that the government was exceeding its legal powers by enacting rules that will force the messaging app to break end-to-end message encryption.