Technology

Twitter falls into line, says no question of not complying with rules

Tuesday, 01 June 2021 | PNS | New Delhi

Resident Grievance Officer appointed, microblogging site informs Delhi HC

US based micro-blogging site Twitter on Monday informed the Delhi High Court that it had already appointed a Resident Grievance Officer on May 28 and that there was “no question of not complying with the law or Rules”.

Issuing notices to Twitter and the Centre, Delhi High Court Justice Rekha Palli observed that petitioner had sought directions to Twitter Communications India Pvt. Ltd and Twitter Inc, San Francisco, US to comply with the Rules, 2021.

The court issued notices to Centre and Twitter and gave three weeks time to the social media giant to file an affidavit to substantiate its assertions with regard to complying with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. The case was listed for hearing on July 6.

 “The grievance of the petition is towards non-appointment,” said Justice Palli. Before the Judge passed the order, the counsel for Twitter Inc, San Francisco, US, Sajan Poovayya, made an oral prayer for deletion of Twitter Communications India Pvt. Ltd as Respondent because the entity that would deal with the present matter is Twitter Inc, San Francisco, US. The court noted the submission and issued notices to the Centre and Twitter Inc, San Francisco.

Addressing the court, the counsel for Twitter said, “The Rules have been complied with. There is no question of Rules not being followed. A resident grievance officer has been appointed as of May 28, 2021,” Sajan Poovayya said.

However, the Central Government disputed the claim. Central Government standing counsel Ripudaman Singh Bhardwaj told the Centre that Twitter has not complied with the new IT rules. “That is why I am asking them to put in an affidavit,” said Justice Rekha Palli.

An official statement by the Twitter spokesperson informed, “As we have stated earlier, Twitter strives to comply with applicable laws in India. We continue to be strictly guided by principles of transparency, a commitment to empowering every voice on the service, and protecting freedom of expression and privacy under the Indian law.”

The court was hearing a plea by lawyer Amit Acharya over Twitter’s non-compliance. The plea, filed by lawyer Amit Acharya through advocates Akash Vajpai and Manish Kumar, states that Acharya, on May 26, claimed that “defamatory, false and untrue” tweets were made by two verified users and wanted to raise the issue before the Resident Grievance Officer. Acharya said that the IT Rules took effect from February 25 and that the Centre gave three months to every social media intermediary to comply with them. The three-month period was over on May 25 but Twitter still did not have any resident grievance officer. He sought a direction to Twitter to appoint a resident grievance officer without further delay. It has also sought a direction to the Centre to ensure that the IT rules are complied with.

“However, the petitioner was unable to find the contact details of the Resident Grievance on the website of Twitter… for raising his grievance,” the petition read, adding that an email was also sent to Twitter regarding the tweets.

Earlier, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) on Friday had asked the microblogging company to “stop beating around the bush” and “comply with the laws of the land”.

In a statement, MeitY asserted that India had a “glorious tradition of free speech and democratic practices” and Twitter’s statements were an ‘attempt to dictate its terms to the world’s largest democracy. Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and other social media platforms have been asked to identify the originator of a flagged message within 36 hours as well as conduct additional due diligence, including the appointment of a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and resident grievance officer.

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