It is well known that the introduction of the new IT rules has created a cold war between the Modi government and Twitter. As tension between the two rose, on Thursday Ashwini Vaishnaw – the new Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology sent a warning to Twitter along with The Delhi High Court, which declared the Central Government can initiate any action against Twitter in accordance with the new IT rules in case of non-compliance, while maintaining that it reserves the right to challenge the rules.
In a court filing on Monday, Delhi HC said that Twitter has lost its immunity in India after the American social network failed to comply with the new local IT rules, which were unveiled in February and went into effect in late May. The check on Twitter by the Indian government is justified, as Twitter has been involved in a lot of controversies for the past few months, be it for spreading communalism, promoting child pornography, or declaring J&K as a separate country – the list is never-ending.
The court’s remarks came on the day when the new Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw, made his stand clear on the ongoing faceoff between the Government and Twitter over the IT rules, stating that whoever lived and worked in India would have to follow its rules — and that the “law of the land is supreme”. The Union government can take any action against Twitter if the microblogging platform does not comply with the new IT rules. The court has granted time to Twitter to file its affidavits to show compliance with the rules and there is no interim protection granted to Twitter, as reported by The Indian express.
In February, when the Ministry announced new guidelines for social media intermediaries and digital news platforms, it had given them a deadline of 90 days, which ended on May 26, to abide or lose immunity from prosecution for the content shared on their platforms.
India is the biggest market for both Facebook and YouTube, and the third-biggest for Twitter. The new rules will affect all three giants, since they all have more than 5 million users putting them in the ‘significant’ social media intermediary category.
Twitter, meanwhile, submitted a note before the court, stating that in accordance with the new rules, it will file its first compliance report covering the period May 26-June 25 “no later than on July 11” and appoint an interim Resident Grievance Officer on or within that date. They even appointed a resident of India as its interim Chief Compliance Officer effective July 6. They are also to appoint a Nodal Contact Officer within two weeks fill the position within eight weeks.
Freedom of expression is a valuable asset of a democracy but it should not be abused in the form of spreading hatred or abusing power. Twitter is no longer granted an intermediary status in India. Twitter should have behaved well and stayed within its jurisdiction from the very beginning. Had it shed its sovereign attitude, it would not be facing the wrath of the Indian government and law enforcement.