IT Minister likely to meet representatives of social media firms this month


New Delhi [India], August 2 (ANI): Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw is likely to meet representatives of social media firms this month, sources said on Monday.

This comes amid social media giant Twitter’s involvement in a stand-off with the Indian government for the past several months over the new amendments in the country’s new Information Technology laws with the micro-blogging platform losing its intermediary status and becoming liable for user-generated content.

Earlier in an affidavit filed before the Delhi High Court, the Central government informed that Twitter Inc has failed to fully comply with the IT Rules 2021 in spite of the three months time granted to all Significant Social Media Intermediaries (SSMIs). The deadline for complying with the new rules was May 26, 2021.

The Government of India has approached the Supreme Court seeking transfer of all petitions challenging the constitutionality of the Information Technology (IT) Rules, 2021 from various High Courts to the top court.

On July 28, Delhi High Court pulled up Twitter for not complying with the recently amended IT rules, expressed unhappiness with Twitter affidavits, and granted the last opportunity to file a better affidavit having the details of the person appointed as Chief Compliance Officer and Grievance Officer.

“Are you serious about it,” asked Justice Rekha Palli and criticised Twitter after taking note of the affidavits filed by the company.

“The affidavits clearly show of total non-compliance of rules,” the Court said granting one week’s time as the last opportunity to file a better affidavit in terms of the earlier orders passed by the Court.

The Court made it clear that the affidavit must clearly set out details of persons who have been appointed as Chief Compliance Officer and Grievance officer and also furnish reasons why nodal contact person is not appointed till date and in what time will he be appointed.

The matter was adjourned for August 6, for further hearing.

Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya, representing Twitter, informed the Delhi High Court that two affidavits were filed as regards Chief Compliance Officer and Grievance Officer. The affidavit of entity has clarified that appointments have been made and we will no more use the word ‘interim’.

But the Court pulled up Twitter for using the term “contingent worker” and asked what does it mean.

Advocate replied that Twitter Inc’s is situated outside and they do not have a physical office in India. But, the response could not convince the Court, which remarked that “you are still doing business in India.”

Delhi High Court said it is not happy with the affidavits filed by Twitter. The Court said it is not acceptable that appointing Chief Compliance Officer and Resident Grievance Officer as contingent workers. The Court remarked that if the company wanted to comply with IT rules, comply wholeheartedly.

India’s recently enforced law, Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Ethics Code) Rules 2021, came to regulate the functioning of online media portals and publishers, social media companies like Facebook, Twitter – rendering their services as ‘intermediaries’ – and as well as over-the-top (OTT platforms).

According to amended IT rules, social media and streaming companies will be required to take down contentious content quicker and appoint grievance redressal officers based in the country to deal with online content flagged by authorities and courts and assist in investigations. (ANI)

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