Twitter has lost its liability protections against user-generated content in India due to its failure to comply with the country's IT rules, the Indian government said in a court filing. The move could leave the company's executives vulnerable to criminal charges over objectionable material on its platform, according to TechCrunch.
Indian police have filed at least five cases against the company or its officials, including some related to child pornography and blasphemous content. A report was recently filed to police in the state of Uttar Pradesh against Twitter’s head in India, Manish Maheshwari, over the publication of a map of India that showed the disputed region of Kashmir as a separate country.
Twitter has been in a standoff with the Indian government over its new internet regulations, called the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, announced in February. They dictate that social media companies must remove content within 36 hours of a legal notice and use automated processes to take down offensive material. Platforms must also appoint three full-time executives — who are required to be Indian residents — for compliances, grievances and coordination with law enforcement.
Twitter's resident grievance officer Dharmendra Chatur was the first casualty of the dispute. The exec stepped down from the post in late June. The company has previously stated that it needed more time to comply with the law. Meanwhile, Twitter has bowed to the government's demands to take down accounts with links to the farmers' protests that erupted in India last year. However, it has also drawn the ire of officials over its decision to label tweets by members of the ruling BJP party as "manipulated media."
After months of threats, the Indian government has now officially declared that Twitter has lost its immunity against user-generated content. In a filing dated July 5th, the IT Ministry told the High Court in New Delhi that its decision was a result of Twitter's breach of the IT act. We have reached out to Twitter for comment.
India's information and technology minister Ravi Shankar recently praised other US tech giants for abiding by the rules. As part of their respective compliance reports, Facebook claimed to have taken action against 30 million pieces of content between May 15th and June 15th; its subsidiary Instagram took down about two million posts during the same period; and Google said it had removed 59,350 objectionable posts.
Nice to see significant social media platforms like Google, Facebook and Instagram following the new IT Rules. First compliance report on voluntary removal of offensive posts published by them as per IT Rules is a big step towards transparency. pic.twitter.com/FhzUv4pHUp
— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) July 3, 2021