India gives Twitter ‘last notice’ to comply with new regulations or face ‘consequences’

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The ministry of information in India has issued an ultimatum to Twitter, a social networking service, on complying with the country’s rules on “digital media ethics”.

In a letter signed by Rakesh Maheshwari, an official of the ministry, and addressed to Twitter on Saturday, India said failure of the social networking service to comply with the new rules which call for regulation of content, will result in “unintended consequences”.

According to the letter shared by Asian News International (ANI), the rules — said to have come into effect in May — are targeted at regulating content on social media platforms like Twitter, as well as ensuring more open processes when it comes to legal requests involving posts on the platforms.

The new rules, which have sparked reaction from networking services like Whatsapp, also require social media platforms to set up mechanisms for addressing grievances as it relates to content, and appoint officials who will represent the platforms should cases arise.

“The provisions for significant social media intermediaries under the Rules have already come into force on 26th May 2021 and it has been more than a week but Twitter has refused to comply with the provisions of these Rules,” the letter reads.

“Needless to state, such non-compliance will lead to unintended consequences, including Twitter losing exemption from liability as intermediary available under section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000. This has clearly been provided under rule 7 of the aforesaid Rules.

“The people of India, who use the Twitter platform, deserve and demand a fair mechanism to address their grievances and resolve their disputes. Users who are abused on the platform, or are harassed, or are subject to defamation, or sexual abuse, or become victims, or a whole range of other abusive content must get a redressal mechanism that the same people of India have created through a due process of law.

“Though with effect from 26th May, 2021, in view of Twitter Inc’s non-compliance with the Rules as noted above, consequences follow. However, as gesture of goodwill, Twitter Inc. is hereby given one last notice to immediately comply with the Rules, failing which the exemption from liability available under section 79 of the IT Act, 2000 shall stand withdrawn and Twitter shall be liable for the consequences as per the IT Act and other penal laws of India.”

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