Oct 09,2021 | 5 min read

Twitter Compliance Story - Agreed to Comply New IT rules

Criticism against leaders and policies are instructed into the system with freedom of speech and is highly accepted, but none holds an obligation to defame a country. There is what the line has to be drawn because under the garb of  “virodh” stroking of communal unrest is witnessed. 

For the last decade or so there was no political will to enforce the kinds of criminal liabilities which is already elucidated as per the mother legislation under Section 79 3a read with section 85 of the Information Technology Act, against these service providers and that potentially gives the service providers to believe that they have become powerful. Quoting Sri Singhal vs. Union of India, upheld by the Supreme Court shows that the Government is not introducing anything new. It is just effectively enforcing and interpreting a law that was passed two decades back.  

Can it be justified to say, it was just muscle-flexing on the part of Twitter to comply with the rules. But I believe that they never thought the government was going to become serious. Looks like they took the guidelines for granted thinking in India you can always try to find some way or the other. What they misread was Rule 7 of the IT Rules 2021, reiterating the legalposition of criminal liability. All of a sudden now they wish to intend to comply and show commitment to India and demands for 15 more days.  

Whether the law will be able to regain that statutory exemption from legal liability is also a grey area. Twitter’s contention does not have any kind of a legal basis whatsoever, because the day you've already lost your statutory exemption from legal liability and you are like a normal layperson. 

The holistic approach will have to take a slightly big change as far as all service providers are concerned. They have all become used to the phenomenon of milking the Indian market and exploiting to the hilt the Indian data economy without adhering to the Indian laws knowing fully well that there's a vacuum in Indian policy. They will now have to substantially change their stance. After all, they can no longer argue the exploitation of commercial markets without complying with the country’s laws because they are governed by American law. 

As far as the development of the jurisprudence of cyber law in India is concerned, what next from here on will be very interesting to see. The shape of litigation that's going to unfold before the courts from this point on as there are some constitutional challenges before the High Court challenging the validity of the IT Rules. It’s riveting to see how Twitter takes proactive measures before the Courts and how the courts proceed on that. The service providers will have to be mindful of the fact that the balance of the game is changing, no longer can they now continue to milk markets without compliance. 

In accordance with the IT Rules, 2021, Twitter informed the Delhi High Court on Friday that it has hired a full-time Chief Compliance Officer-cum-Resident Grievance Officer and a Nodal Contact Officer. The Centre informed the court that the compliance had been completed "apparently," and that it needed more time to check the facts. For the first time since the guidelines were published in February, Twitter has made the appointments. All social media platforms must establish a grievance resolution and compliance process, which includes designating a resident grievance officer, chief compliance officer, and a nodal contact person, according to the guidelines. The microblogging site had already made provisional plans to fill the posts and had hired the police through a third-party contractor.

On July 28, while hearing a petition alleging Twitter's non-compliance with the IT Rules, Justice Rekha Palli rejected the affidavits filed by Twitter in response to the case and gave it one week to file better affidavits setting out the details of the person who is said to have been appointed as a Chief Compliance Officer and the Resident Grievance Officer. The court also demanded an explanation from Twitter as to why the nodal contact person has yet to be appointed, as well as an estimate of when the appointment will be made. 

Vinay Prakash has been appointed as the Chief Compliance Officer and Resident Grievance Officer, according to Twitter's written response, and he is fully competent in executing the responsibilities of the two positions as envisioned by Rule 4(1)(a) and (b) (c). Prakash was first appointed to the positions on July 6 and 7, respectively, by a third-party contractor. Similarly, Twitter informed the court that Shahin Komath was appointed as Nodal Contact Officer with effect from August 4, and that he is fully competent in executing the duties of the position as defined by Rule 4(1). (b).

The microblogging site informed the court in July that a resident of India had been hired as its Chief Compliance Officer and Resident Grievance Officer as a "contingent worker via a third party contractor." Twitter notified the court that it has issued a job offer to a suitable candidate for the post of Nodal Contact Person. The new laws also compel major social media companies that offer encrypted messaging services to develop a means to track out the sender of communications in unusual circumstances. This criteria has not been met by a number of companies, including Facebook's WhatsApp and Signal. This restriction has prompted WhatsApp to file a lawsuit against the Indian government.


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