Twitter on Wednesday informed the Centre that it is making efforts to comply with the Union government’s new IT rules and that within a week’s time it will submit a report in this regard.
In a letter to the Centre, the microblogging firm also stated that it is in the final stage of appointing a chief compliance officer as per the new IT rules.
The development comes days after the Centre issued a notice to Twitter giving it “one last chance” to abide by its new rules.
In its notice, the Centre had asked Twitter to appoint a compliance officer as well as a grievance officer and nodal contact person. Failure by Twitter to comply with the rules will lead to it losing exemption from liability under IT Act as well as drawing penal provisions, the notice had stated.
The Centre’s deadline for digital platforms to accept its latest IT compliance requirements came to an end on May 25.
While announcing the new IT rules on February 25, the Centre had said that if “significant social media intermediaries” failed to comply with the new requirements, they will lose their intermediary status. “Significant social media intermediaries” refers to those digital platforms which have more than 50 lakh registered users.
“…We are in advanced stages of finalising the appointment of the role of chief compliance office and we plan to provide additional details to you in the next several days, and at the latest within a week,” Twitter stated in its letter to the Centre.
According to an official source, the letter was sent on June 7 to the Ministry of Electronics and IT.
When contacted, a Twitter spokesperson told PTI, “Twitter has been and remains deeply committed to India, and serving the vital public conversation taking place on the service. We have assured the Government of India that Twitter is making every effort to comply with the new Guidelines, and an overview on our progress has been duly shared. We will continue our constructive dialogue with the Indian government.”
The new IT rules for social media companies mandate large platforms like Facebook and Twitter to undertake greater due diligence and make these digital platforms more accountable and responsible for the content hosted by them.
Under the rules, significant social media intermediaries are required to appoint a grievance officer, a nodal officer and a chief compliance officer. These personnel have to be residents in India.
Further, social media companies will have to take down flagged content within 36 hours, and remove within 24 hours content that is flagged for issues such as nudity and pornography.
The new social media guidelines came into effect from May 26, 2021 but Twitter did not comply with the rules.
In its final notice, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) had said that Twitter’s refusal to comply with the rules demonstrated the micro-blogging site’s “lack of commitment and efforts towards providing a safe experience for the people of India on its platform”.
The ministry notice warned the social media firm of consequences for not following the new rules but gave one last chance to Twitter to “immediately comply with the rules, failing which the exemption from liability available… shall stand withdrawn and Twitter shall be liable for consequences as per the IT Act and other penal laws of India”.
Twitter in its latest reply said that it understands the importance of new regulations and “have endeavored in good faith to comply with the guidelines, including with respect to hiring personnel in India”.
The micro-blogging site said that the guidelines were notified on February 25, 2021, and the global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has made it more difficult for it to make certain arrangements that are necessary to comply with the rules within stipulated time-frame.
“For example, similar to other significant social media intermediaries operating in India, in order to comply with the underlying intention behind the guidelines, we have appointed a nodal contact person and resident grievance officer on a contractual basis while we recruit to fill the positions on a permanent basis,” Twitter said in the letter.
The social media firm that remains committed to serving the people of India by providing a platform to serve the public conversation in India, especially during critical moments and emergency situations.
The social media firm has had several faceoffs with the government since the start of farmers’ protest in Delhi and later when it tagged political posts of several leaders of the ruling party BJP as “manipulated media”.
Several ministers from the government and officials joined Indian rival of Twitter, Koo which is backed by former Infosys CFO Mohandas Pai.
(With PTI inputs)
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