Twitter has written to MeitY seeking more time to comply with the new IT rules because of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic. This comes a week after the government issued a strongly-worded final notice to the company regarding its non-compliance with the new rules.
The new IT rules for social media companies that came into effect last month mandate large platforms like Facebook and Twitter to undertake greater due diligence and make these digital platforms more accountable and responsible for the content hosted by them.
A Twitter spokesperson told PTI that the platform has been and remains deeply committed to India, and serving the vital public conversation taking place on the service. “We have assured the Government of India that Twitter is making every effort to comply with the new guidelines, and an overview on our progress has been duly shared. We will continue our constructive dialogue with the Indian Government.”
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), in its notice, had said that the microblogging platform’s refusal to comply with the rules demonstrated the company’s lack of commitment and efforts towards providing a safe experience for the people of India on its platform.
“Despite being operational in India for more than a decade, it is beyond belief that Twitter Inc has doggedly refused to create mechanism that will enable the people of India to resolve their issues on the platform in a timely and transparent manner and through fair processes, by India based, clearly identified resources,” the ministry said.
The new rules also require significant social media intermediaries, providing services primarily in the nature of messaging, to enable identification of the “first originator” of the information that undermines the sovereignty of India. Moreover, social media companies will have to take down flagged content within 36 hours, and remove within 24 hours content that is flagged for issues such as nudity and pornography.
Reports highlight that the number of government’s orders to social media companies to take down posts and accounts under Section 69(A) of the IT Act has risen steeply over the last couple of years. About 6,000 orders such orders were issued until the first week of June this year, up from around 3,600 in 2019 and over 9,800 in 2020.