As Twitter failed to comply with the new IT rules needed to appoint key officers based in-country, Twitter has lost its legal immunity from prosecution for user content in India. According to the government sources, a case was filed against Twitter in Uttar Pradesh for tweets about an attack that the police said intended to stir communal unrest.
The new IT rules that came into effect on May 25th, Twitter hasn’t met with all of the terms and conditions yet. Says Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
“Due to their non-compliance, their protection as an intermediary is gone. Twitter is liable for penal actions against any Indian law just as any publisher is,” the sources said.
In Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, the first action holding Twitter liable for third-party material was filed yesterday night in connection with an alleged attack on an aged Muslim man on the 5th of June.
In a First Information Report (FIR), Twitter is accused of failing to remove “misleading” information related to the event.
Sufi Abdul Samad said that a gang attacked him and chopped off his beard while forcing him to recite “Vande Matram” and “Jai Shri Ram.” According to the UP police, he was lying and that the incident was not a communal occurrence as indicated by the tweets; the guy was attacked by six guys, including Hindus and Muslims, according to the police, who were enraged by amulets he had sold them.
FIR has been lodged against Twitter and several Journalists for provoking “communal tension” by sharing the post of the elderly man.
The police further claimed that on the night of June 14, they published a news statement on Twitter that provided facts and refuted the community aspect, but that despite the explanation, the tweets were not deleted, and that no action was taken by Twitter to get the tweets removed.
“Since they do not enjoy any protection and they did not flag this video as manipulated media, they are liable for penal action,” government sources said.
Twitter announced on Tuesday that it will shortly share details with the Ministry of Information Technology of the recruited interim Chief Compliance Officer.
Twitter, according to a spokesman, is “continuing to make every effort” to cope with the requirements standards and is keeping the IT Ministry updated on its progress at every stage.
When the new regulations went into force last month, Twitter voiced worry about what it called a “possible danger to freedom of expression.”
A harsh “Last notice” was sent to Twitter last month by the government, claiming that its reluctance to do so proved its “lack of commitment & efforts” in delivering a secure experience for Indians on its platform.
“Despite being operational in India for more than a decade, it is beyond belief that Twitter Inc has doggedly refused to create a mechanism that will enable the people of India to resolve their issues on the platform in a timely and transparent manner and through fair processes, by India based, clearly identified resources,” the Ministry of Electronics and IT had said.