India accuses Twitter of failing to comply with new IT rules | Censorship news
India’s technology minister said Twitter Inc had deliberately defied and failed to comply with the country’s new IT rules, which came into effect at the end of May.
Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Wednesday that Twitter has chosen “the path of deliberate defiance” when it comes to following new internet regulations which digital activists say could restrict speech and online privacy in India.
“If a foreign entity thinks it can present itself as the flag bearer of free speech in India to apologize for complying with the law of the land, such attempts are misplaced,” Prasad said in a statement. series of tweets.
“However, the simple fact is that Twitter failed to adhere to the Intermediary Guidelines which went into effect on May 26.”
There are many questions as to whether Twitter is entitled to a safe harbor provision. However, the simple fact is that Twitter failed to adhere to the intermediary guidelines that came into effect on May 26.
– Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) June 16, 2021
The new rules or so-called interim guidelines, announced in February, aim to regulate content on social media companies such as Facebook, its messenger WhatsApp and Twitter, making them more accountable for legal requests for prompt removal of posts and sharing details. on the authors of the messages.
Under the new rules, social media websites and tech companies will also be required to remove content within 36 hours of issuing an administrative or legal order. Their employees can be held criminally responsible if they fail to comply with government demands.
The rules also require large social media companies to put in place grievance mechanisms and appoint new executives to coordinate with law enforcement.
‘Manipulated media’ line
Prasad also accused Twitter of bias and said he labeled certain content as manipulated media, “only when it suits his likes and dislikes.”
In May, leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata (BJP) party tweeted parts of a document they said was created by the main opposition party in Congress to discredit the government’s handling of the pandemic.
Some congressional leaders complained to Twitter, claiming the document was forged. In response, Twitter marked some posts as “manipulated media”.
Twitter’s rules apply “manipulated media” tags to posts that have been “tampered with or deceptively fabricated”.
Prasad’s ministry wrote to Twitter on June 5, warning the company of “unintended consequences” if it did not follow the rules, Reuters news agency previously reported.
Prasad did not directly comment on whether Twitter has lost intermediary protections, but a senior government official told Reuters that Twitter may no longer be eligible to seek exemptions from liability as an intermediary or host of user content in India. due to its disregard for new information technologies. rules.
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment, although it said on Monday it was keeping India’s technology ministry informed of measures it was taking.
“An interim compliance officer has been retained and details will be communicated directly to the ministry shortly,” he said. “Twitter continues to make every effort to comply with the new guidelines.
The Indian government disagrees with major social media sites over a sweeping new set of regulations that give it more power to control online content.
It requires companies to erase content that authorities deem illegal, comply with government withdrawal orders, participate in police investigations and identify the perpetrators of “malicious information.”
New Delhi-based digital rights group, the Internet Freedom Foundation, said it was only for the courts, not the government, to decide whether companies like Twitter remained middlemen in the event of non-compliance. presumed such as the appointment of officers.
Growing tensions with the Indian government have annoyed large US-based tech companies that have spent millions of dollars building hubs in their biggest growth market, as some rethink their expansion plans, have people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Frictions have intensified recently, with the government threatening social media companies with lawsuits and their employees with jail time if they refuse to comply with the withdrawal guidelines.
Initially, Twitter expressed concern about what it called “the potential threat to free speech” when the new rules came into effect late last month.