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Parliamentary Panel Summons Twitter Over Non-Compliance With New IT Laws

Parliamentary Panel Summons Twitter Over Non-Compliance With New IT Laws

The Parliamentary panel will seek information on preventing misuse of social media and online news from Twitter on Friday

Last week, the Indian government gave an ultimatum to social media platform Twitter to comply with the new IT rules or intermediary guidelines

Twitter is facing government’s wrath for not complying with the rules fully with many calling for a ban on the platform

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Technology has summoned Microblogging site Twitter to appear before the panel on  June 18th, according to multiple media reports.

The Parliamentary panel will seek information on preventing misuse of social media and online news from Twitter on Friday, reports added. Additionally, the panel will also seek clarity from Twitter regarding its delay in complying with the new IT laws.

“To hear the views of representatives of Twitter followed by evidence of representatives Electronics Technology ‘Safeguarding citizens’ rights and prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms including special emphasis on women security in the digital space,” says the Parliamentary Panel agenda for Friday.

The panel’s intervention comes at a time when Twitter has shown reluctance to comply with certain provisions in  India’s new IT rules or intermediary guidelines. Last week, Twitter said that it is making every effort to comply with the new IT rules after being given an ultimatum by the Indian government.

“It is noted that despite repeated letters from the ministry, Twitter had failed to provide adequate clarifications,” said Rakesh Maheshwari, group coordinator for cyberlaw at the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), in a letter to Twitter.

However, the company has reportedly sought more time to comply with India’s controversial IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, informally called the new IT rule, due to the challenges posed by the uncertain pandemic situation in India.

“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,” a Twitter spokesperson said on Monday (June 7).

The IT rules went into effect from May 26, 2021 and impact the way users interact with social media platforms and increase the compliance burden on such platforms as well as OTT video streaming companies and digital publishers.

Intermediary liability means that a social media company is legally liable for whatever is posted on its platform — and the country’s laws currently exempt tech firms from such liabilities in line with international practice.

The government’s grouse is that Twitter India has not communicated about the appointment of a chief grievance officer as mandated by the IT Rules, 2021. A petition was filed on May 28 in the Delhi High Court against the microblogging website over non-compliance with the IT rules. However, Twitter claimed before the court that it had complied with the rules and appointed a resident grievance officer.

After Twitter named Jeremy Kessel from San Francisco as the grievance officer, Amit Acharya, a practising advocate at the Delhi high court and the Supreme Court claimed that the appointment of Kessel “is not in true sense implementation of the Rule 4 of Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Ethics Code) Rules 2021”. Twitter then appointed Dharmendra Chatur from Bengaluru, who is a partner at Poovayya & Co, as the interim grievance office.