Twitter has lost legal immunity in India following its failure to comply with the new IT rules that require the platform to appoint key officers in the country, according to reports.
"Due to their non-compliance, their protection as an intermediary is gone. Twitter is liable for penal actions against any Indian law just as any publisher is," NDTV cited sources as saying.
This means that the microblogging platform has now lost its indemnity and intermediary status, under which it was granted exemption from liability available under Section 79 of the IT Act, 2000.
According to the report, a case was filed against Twitter on June 15 in Uttar Pradesh over a video of assault that went viral and allegedly incited communal tensions. This is the first case that holds the social media giant responsible for third-party content. It has been accused in a First Information Report (FIR) of not removing "misleading" content linked to the incident, NDTV reported.
"Since they do not enjoy any protection and they did not flag this video as manipulated media, they are liable for penal action," government sources were quoted as saying.
As Twitter loses its intermediary status, it can now be held liable for content published on the microblogging site and can no longer claim protection under the "safe harbour clause". It shall now be liable for consequences as per the IT Act and other penal laws of India, just like any other publisher is.
The implication of this development is that if there is any charge against Twitter for alleged unlawful content it would be treated as a publisher – not an intermediary – and be liable for punishment under any law, including IT Act, as also the penal laws of the country, ANI reported.
As per the government, Twitter is the only social media platform that has not complied with rules that require them to appoint India-based officers including a grievance officer, a nodal officer, and a chief compliance officer.
On June 15, Twitter had announced that it has appointed an interim chief compliance officer, whose details will be communicated to the IT Ministry directly soon.
A company spokesperson said that Twitter "continues to make every effort" to comply with the new guidelines and is keeping the IT Ministry apprised of progress at every step of the process.
The new IT rules, which were notified on February 25 by the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), came into effect on May 26. Every social media intermediary, including Twitter, was given three months to comply with them.
Under the new guidelines, social media companies like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter have also been asked to identify within 36 hours the originator of a flagged message.
CNBC-TV18 had earlier reported that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor had summoned Twitter representatives on June 18 to seek an explanation as well as inputs over a range of issues.
First Published: IST