Twitter has lost liability protection in India, government says – TechCrunch

Twitter no longer enjoys liability protection against user-generated content in India; the government said in a court filing this week as tension escalates between the two over the South Asian nation’s new IT rules. In a court filing on Monday, New Delhi said Twitter had lost its immunity in India after the American social network failed to comply with the new local IT rules unveiled in February and went into effect in late May. Experts have said recently that the Indian court — and not the Indian government — can decide whether Twitter gets to keep its safe harbor protections in the world’s second-largest internet market.

Internet services enjoy what is broadly called “safe harbor” protections that say that tech platforms won’t be held liable for what their users post or share online. Suppose you insult someone on Twitter, for example. In that case, the company may be asked to take down your post (if the offended person has approached the court and a takedown order has been issued), but it likely won’t be held legally responsible for what you said or did. Without the protection, Twitter — which, according to mobile insight firm App Annie, has over 100 million users in India — is, on paper, responsible for everything those users say on its platform.

“I state the immunity conferred on intermediaries under section 79(1) is a conditional immunity subject to the intermediary satisfying the conditions under sections 79(2) and 79(3). As provided in Rule 7, failure to observe the IT Rules 2021 results in provisions of Section 79(1) of the IT Act, 2000 not applying to such an intermediary,” N Samaya Balan of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology wrote in the filing.


The move comes as tension escalates between the Indian government and Twitter. Google, Facebook, and several other firms have partially or fully complied with the IT rules, which, among other things, require any significant social media firm (any firm with over 5 million users in India) to appoint a chief compliant officer, a resident grievance officer, and a so-called nodal contact person to address on-ground concerns. The court filing said that.

Twitter has not complied with any of these requirements. Twitter had no comment on Monday’s filing but said it intends to comply with the IT rules. “All social media platforms are welcome to do business in India. They can criticize Ravi Shankar Prasad, my Prime Minister, or anyone. The issue is the misuse of social media. Some of them say American laws bind us. You operate in India and make good money, but you will assume that America laws you. This is unacceptable,” India’s IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said at a conference last week.

With the liability protection stripped off, Twitter executives in India could face several criminal charges over content deemed objectionable on the platform. Indian police have filed at least five cases against the company or its officials over various issues. In late May, a special squad of Delhi police visited two of Twitter’s offices in what many perceived as an intimidation tactic. Twitter said at the time that it was “concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression for the people we serve” and requested the Indian government to grant it three additional months to comply with the new IT rules.

WhatsApp, too, hasn’t fully complied with the new IT rules. The IT rules also mandate operators of encrypted messaging apps to introduce a way for law enforcement to “trace” the originator of objectionable messages. WhatsApp, which has amassed over 530 million users in India, sued the Indian government in May over this requirement, saying making “traceability” possible would violate citizens’ constitutional right to privacy. It’s unclear whether Apple has tens of millions of Messages / iMessage users in India and has complied with the traceability requirement. ISignal has also reportedly not adhered to the traceability requirement. The messaging service didn’t respond to a request for comment. t declined to comment.

Gemma Broadhurst
I am a writer by profession, and I love to write in my spare time. I am one of the most experienced writer for newspriest. I always make sure that whatever is written on my blog is 100% genuine and true. I am a University of Florida graduate pursuing a Master's degree.

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