Indian government says Twitter no longer has liability protection

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Twitter and the Indian government have rarely seen eye to eye over the past year and now the latter decided to remove the social media platform’s liability protection in the region as a result of failing to comply with its divisive new IT rules.

According to TechCrunch, the Indian IT Ministry filed court documents earlier this week confirming that Twitter had indeed lost its liability protections, with the aforementioned new IT rules outlined in February of this year and coming into effect in May.

“I state the immunity conferred on intermediaries under section 79(1) is a conditional immunity subject to the intermediary satisfying the conditions under sections 79(2) and 79(3). As provided in Rule 7, failure to observe the IT Rules 2021 results in provisions of Section 79(1) of the IT Act, 2000 not being applicable to such an intermediary,” the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s N Samaya Balan wrote in the filing.

As Reuters explains, the court filing came as a result of an unnamed Twitter user in the country being denied the ability to have alleged defamatory tweets about them removed. Said individual noted that Twitter was failing to comply with the country’s new IT laws and that action had to be taking.

Twitter had previously stated its desire to comply with the rules, but at the time of writing no steps have officially been made. The company was also unavailable to comment on the matter on Monday.

“All social media platforms are welcome to do business in India. They can criticize Ravi Shankar Prasad, my Prime Minister or anyone. The issue is of misuse of social media. Some of them say we are bound by American laws. You operate in India, make good money, but you will take the position that you’ll be governed by American laws. This is plainly not acceptable,” India’s IT Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, argued in a conference last week.

While the minister makes some cogent points above, the concern over the new IT laws is what this means for executives at Twitter operating in India who have come under heavy criticism and pressure from the government over the past year or so.

Given similar concerns about Hong Kong’s privacy laws, it looks like big tech firms operating in South East Asia are coming under more scrutiny and facing tougher compliance issues. The likes of WhatsApp and Signal for example, are said to have also failed to comply, so it remains to be seen if they too will have liability protection stripped away.

[Image – Photo by Jeremy Zero on Unsplash]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Editor of Hypertext. Covers smartphones, IoT, 5G, cloud computing and a few things in between. Also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games when not taking the hatchet to stories.

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