Twitter reportedly loses immunity over UGC in India for failure to comply with IT rules

Twitter will reportedly no longer have immunity over user-generated content in India because it failed to comply with the country’s new IT rules, multiple media reports including Reuters said, citing a court filing by the Indian government. Reuters added that this is the first time Twitter has lost its immunity after being constantly criticised by the Indian government for non-compliance. Twitter declined to comment on MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s queries.

Last month, the Indian government criticised Twitter for intentionally defying and failing to comply with its new IT rules, Reuters said. The rules came into effect in late May this year after they were announced in February. Known as Intermediary Guidelines, the rules were reportedly created to regulate content on social media firms such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, pushing them to be “more accountable” to legal requests for fast removal of posts and sharing details of individuals who first published the messages.

In the recent court filing to the High Court in Delhi, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeITY) said Twitter’s non-compliance resulted in “a breach of the provisions of the IT Act”, leading to the US company losing its immunity. According to Reuters, the court filing was part of a case filed by a Twitter user who wanted to complain about tweets that were allegedly defamatory. The user claimed that Twitter was not acting in accordance with the new law that requires the appointment of certain new executives, Reuters said.

India’s technology minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, criticised the US social media giant late last month for allegedly denying access to his account for nearly an hour. This came amidst a disagreement between Twitter and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration concerning the compliance of India’s new IT rules. Citing Prasad, Reuters reported that he took to a local rival platform named Koo to voice his displeasure towards Twitter. The minister said Twitter denied him access on the grounds that he had violated the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Twitter later restored Prasad access to his account, Reuters said.

Separately in May, Twitter was also requested by the Indian government to remove several tweets by netizens and politicians amidst mounting criticism on how it has handled the increase in COVID-19 cases. Reports previously seen by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE said Twitter revealed that the government made an emergency order to have certain tweets removed. At the same time, the Wall Street Journal also previously reported that the Indian government ordered Facebook and Instagram to block social media posts criticising its handling of the COVID-19 surge.

Photo courtesy: 123RF

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