Coming down heavily on it, the Delhi High Court on Thursday told Twitter that it will lose its legal protection if it does not follow the new IT rules that require it to, among other things, appoint compliance officers based in the country.
Earlier in the day, Twitter had informed the Delhi High Court that it will take eight weeks to appoint a grievance redressal officer, days after the social media giant was at the receiving end of the court’s fury for “misleading” it.
The micro-blogging site also told the court that it is in the process of setting up a liaison office in India, in compliance with the IT rules. This office will be their permanent physical contact.
Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, representing the Centre, had on Tuesday said the rules were notified on February 25 and the three-month window was given to the intermediaries to comply with the rules, which has expired on May 25.
“We are on July 6. It is a 42-day complete non-compliance. They are most welcome to do business in India. But this attitude is cock a snook at the digital sovereignty of this country,” he had argued. The judge had said, “I have already told them they have to comply with the rules. I am not giving them any protection. If they are in defiance, you are free to take action. I have already made it clear if they want to work, they have to follow rules.”
The court had accused Twitter of misleading it by not informing that the Grievance Officer appointed was merely interim in nature. The rap came a day after the Centre told the Delhi High Court that the social media giant has failed to comply with India’s new IT Rules, which could lead to losing its immunity conferred under the Information Technology (IT) Act.
The Centre, in an affidavit filed in the high court, said as per the details obtained from Twitter’s website or mobile application, as an interim, the grievances from India are being handled by the platform’s official located in the US which amounts to non-compliance of the IT Rules, 2021.
The IT Rules, 2021 are the law of the land and Twitter is mandatorily required to comply with the same, said the affidavit filed in response to a plea by lawyer Amit Acharya, in which he claimed non-compliance of the Centre’s new IT Rules by the microblogging platform.
Saying Twitter cannot be permitted to take as much time as it wants to appoint a Resident Grievance Officer, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday said it expects the micro-blogging site to inform it on Thursday about its stand “regarding complying with all other provisions” of IT Rules, 2021.
India’s new IT rules which became effective end-May are aimed at regulating content on social media firms and making them more accountable to legal requests for swift removal of posts and sharing details on the originators of messages.
Former Technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had slammed Twitter for deliberately defying the law and said all social media firms must abide by the new rules.
In recent weeks, as acrimony grew between New Delhi and Twitter, police have filed at least five cases against the company or its officials, including some related to child pornography and a controversial map of India on its career page.
(With PTI inputs)