Twitter Loses Intermediary Status; Now Open to Criminal Action

Twitter’s Intermediary status in India has been revoked for failing to comply with the new Information Technology Rules, reports Financial Express.

The Rules came into effect on May 26. As per report, the implication of this development is that if the microblogging site is charged tomorrow for allegedly unlawful content, it will be treated as a publisher – not an intermediary – and will be liable for punishment under any law, including the IT Act as well as the country’s penal laws.

As a result, Twitter has become the first company to lose its intermediate status, joining the ranks of Facebook, Google, Instagram, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, and others. Other companies of this type have already filed their compliance reports to the authorities.

Section 79 of the IT Act grants social media businesses intermediate status, which entitles them to exemptions and protection from liability for third-party material and data hosted by them.

According to reports, Twitter, as a key social media intermediary, was legally required to comply with the new Intermediary Rules by May 25, 2021, after the three-month period provided to all intermediaries upon notification of the Rules by the government, but it did not comply.

Officials stated that in the initial letter from Twitter on May 28, their main contention was that they were in the process of recruiting a nodal contact person (NCP) and resident grievance officer (RGO), as well as providing a physical contact location in India.

On June 2, Twitter sent an email to the government indicating that Dharmendra Chatur, a lawyer working in a law firm, had been designated as an interim nodal contact person and resident grievance officer. According to government sources, Chatur was not a Twitter employee as required by the criteria.

On June 5, the government addressed a statement to Twitter in which it offered the firm one last option to instantly comply with the Rules as a goodwill gesture.

According to government officials, on June 6, Twitter responded that as a temporary remedy, they had established a nodal contact person and a resident grievance officer on a contractual basis.

Regarding the chief compliance officer (CCO), Twitter informed the government that the appointment will be finalised and details provided within a week. However, in their most recent contact on June 13, the company just stated that it has issued a job description to employ CCO, NCP, and RGO and that they will try to fill these positions as soon as feasible.

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