This Article is From Jul 05, 2021

"Twitter In Breach Of Law Of The Land": Centre Tells Delhi High Court

Twitter's failure to comply with IT Rules leads to a loss of immunity as an "intermediary", the Centre has said.

Twitter had told the court earlier that it will appoint the required perssonnel in India soon.

New Delhi:

Microblogging site Twitter has failed to comply with IT Rules, 2021, leading to a loss of immunity as an "intermediary", the government of India today told the Delhi High Court. The social media giant's failure to appoint key officers, even after three months granted to comply with the new IT rules, amounts to a breach of the law of the land, it said.

A loss of its intermediary status, which provides its immunity from liabilities over any third-party data hosted by it, makes it liable for criminal action in case of complaints.

The Delhi High Court was hearing a case filed by a Twitter user alleging that his complaint against Tweets was not acted upon promptly by the social media giant.

"IT Rules, 2021, are the law of the land and Respondent No. 2 (Twitter) is mandatorily required to comply with the same. Any non-compliance amounts to a breach of the provisions of the IT Rules, 2021, thereby, leading to Twitter losing its immunity conferred under section 79(1) of the IT Act, 2000," the Centre said.

It cited reasons like a Chief Compliance Officer not being appointed by Twitter, the positions of the Resident Grievance Officer and Nodal Contact Person -- even interim --  being vacant, and the company's physical contact address not being available on its website. The government noted that the address was showing on May 29, but has disappeared since.

Twitter Inc had initially appointed an interim Resident Grievance Officer and an interim Nodal Contact Person. Later, however, it said interim both personnel had withdrawn or resigned from their positions, the Centre said.

"Twitter Inc is admittedly an 'intermediary' within the meaning of Section 2(1)(w) of IT Act, 2000, and an SSMI (Significant Social Media Intermediary) under the IT Rules 2021. In spite of the three months' time granted to all SSMIs to comply with the IT Rules 2021, having expired on 26.05.2021, Twitter has failed to fully comply with the same," the Centre told the High Court.

SSMIs are required to appoint a chief compliance officer, a nodal officer, and a grievance officer -- all whom are required to be residents of India, according to the IT rules. Non-compliance would result in these platforms losing their intermediary status.

On Saturday, Twitter informed the court that an Interim Resident Grievance Officer will be appointed soon in India. Till then, it said, complaints were being addressed by a grievance officer.

It also said that though the government notification was issued on February 26, the three-month period to comply with the new IT rules was not mandatory but only directory.