IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday said Twitter failed to comply with intermediary guidelines and has “deliberately” chosen the path of non-compliance despite being granted multiple opportunities.
Lashing out at the micro-blogging platform over non-compliance, Prasad said that it is “astounding” that Twitter that portrays itself as the flag bearer of free speech, chooses the path of deliberate defiance when it comes to the Intermediary Guidelines.
“There are numerous queries arising as to whether Twitter is entitled to safe harbour provision. However, the simple fact of the matter is that Twitter has failed to comply with the Intermediary Guidelines that came into effect from the May 26,” Prasad said in a series of posts on homegrown microblogging platform Koo.
The minister also tweeted on the issue.
Prasad asserted that Twitter was given multiple opportunities to comply with the rules, but deliberately chose the path of non-compliance.
“Further, what is perplexing is that Twitter fails to address the grievances of users by refusing to setting up process as mandated by the law of the land. Additionally, it chooses a policy of flagging manipulated media, only when it suits, its likes and dislikes,” he said.
The minister said that what happened in Uttar Pradesh was illustrative of Twitter”s “arbitrariness” in fighting fake news.
“While Twitter has been over-enthusiastic about its fact-checking mechanism, its failure to act in multiple cases like UP is perplexing as well as points towards its inconsistency in fighting misinformation,” he said.
It is pertinent to mention that an FIR has been filed against Twitter over an incident in Ghaziabad”s Loni where an elderly man was allegedly assaulted.
Prasad said that Indian companies, be it pharma or IT or others that go to do business in the US or in other countries overseas, voluntarily follow the local laws.
“Then why are platforms like Twitter showing reluctance in following Indian laws designed to give voice to the victims of abuse and misuse,” the minister questioned.
The culture of India varies like its large geography, he said, adding that in certain scenarios, with the amplification of social media, even a small spark can cause a fire, especially with the menace of fake news.
“This was one of the objectives of bringing the Intermediary Guidelines,” Prasad said.
In a major setback to Twitter, the microblogging platform has lost its ”safe harbour” protection in India over non-compliance with IT rules and failure to appoint key personnel mandated under the new guidelines, despite repeated reminders, and it will now be liable for action under Indian Penal Code for third party unlawful content.
Earlier this month, the government had given one last chance to Twitter to comply with the new IT rules, that came into effect on May 26, and had issued a stern warning that failure to adhere to the norms will lead to the platform losing exemption from liability under the IT Act.
The IT Ministry had questioned Twitter over not providing information about the Chief Compliance Officer as required under the rules.
Also, the resident grievance officer and nodal contact person nominated by the company is not an employee of Twitter Inc in India as prescribed in the rules, the ministry had flagged.