Twitter failed to comply with new IT rules, loses intermediary status in India

Microblogging website Twitter lost its status as an intermediary platform in India because it failed to comply with the revised Information Technology regulations which came into effect on May 25.

“Due to their non-compliance, their protection as an intermediary is gone. Twitter can face liability for violating any Indian law just as any publisher is,” sources in the Ministry of Electronics and IT said.

If its intermediary status is taken away, Twitter would be treated as a publisher and be liable for punishment under any law if a case is filed against it for alleged unlawful content.

This puts Twitter in a pickle because it would be treated as a publisher and be open to lawsuits and legal proceedings hence being liable for punishment in case of any alleged lawful content under any law, including the IT Act, as also the penal laws of the country.

Twitter now to be held responsible for tweets, encountered their first case on Tuesday where Twitter has been named in an FIR in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad over “provoking communal sentiments” after an elderly Muslim man alleged that he was assaulted on June 5. So, Twitter is not immune to criminal charges for what somebody posts on the platform. Its top executives may now be questioned for any content that the authorities feel unlawful, inflammatory, etc.

Union IT & law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has explained through a series of tweets that the microblogging website was given multiple opportunities to comply with the new IT rules but it “deliberately chose the path of non-compliance”.

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