On 6th July 2021, the Delhi high court gave the Information and Technology ministry an upper hand in the Twitter India legal case in response to the affidavit filed by lawyer N. Samaya Balan claiming non-compliance with the new social media rules by Twitter. Justice Rekha Palli clearly said that Twitter India would be “in trouble” and the government was “free to take action” against the intermediary microblogging site unless they appoint a permanent resident grievances officer (RGO), chief compliance and nodal officer real soon to meet up the “law of the land”.
“In spite of the three months’ time granted to all SSMIs (significant social media intermediaries) to comply with the IT Rules 2021 having expired on 26.05.2021,Twitter has failed to fully comply with the same,” the government said in the affidavit. According to the new IT rules, it is important for significant social media intermediaries having more than 5 million Indian users like Twitter and Facebook to appoint chief compliance, grievance and nodal officers as a part of the due diligence process. In India, to gain legal protection against user-generated content an intermediary status is indispensable for social platforms like Twitter. Losing this legal immunity can lead to unnecessary litigations for any illicit content shared over the platform.
As if these judiciary processes and the growing coercion of appointing the key officers were not enough for Twitter India, three police charges of instigating communal tension, availability of child pornography/sexual assault content and showing Jammu and Kashmir outside the map of India have added to the tension as Twitter India has lost the legal privilege as an intermediary.
On July 6th, the Ghaziabad Police has further summoned Dharmendra Chatur, the former grievance officer of Twitter India in the same case. The notice was issued under Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
On June 29, New Delhi cops registered a case against Twitter India after India’s National Commission for Protection of Child Rights accused the social media platform of “availability of child sexual abuse and child pornographic material” in its contents. The rights group wrote a letter to the police saying it had received a complaint about online threats against a minor girl and found pornographic stuff on Twitter India. In this case, Twitter confirmed that it has a zero-tolerance policy for child sexual exploitation. The Delhi police affirmed that they are still investigating the case.
Last week, two more FIRs in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradeshwere lodged against senior officials of Twitter India after the social media conglomerate on its careers page put up an Indian map that exhibited Jammu and Kashmir outside India. That map was taken down immediately and it’s not anymore visible on the site.
Twitter India is facing several legal complications and this might continue in the future unless they take the necessary steps to comply with the new IT rules.