Twitter has lost its legal immunity for content posted on its platform: Govt tells Delhi HC


The government has informed the Delhi High Court that Twitter had failed to comply with India’s new social media rules and as a result has lost the legal immunity it had as an intermediary. 

In an affidavit filed with the court on Monday, the information and technology ministry said that the new social media rules are the “law of the land” and Twitter will have to mandatorily comply with it. 

The affidavit was filed in response to a petition by lawyer Amit Acharya, in which he claimed non-compliance of the new social media rules by the platform. Entrackr has seen a copy of the affidavit which was filed by N. Samaya Balan who works as a Scientist-E in the Cyber Law Group of the IT Ministry.

According to the affidavit, the government said that Twitter was yet to appoint chief compliance, grievance and nodal officers, which are mandatory under the social media rules for significant social media intermediaries like Twitter and Facebook. 

These appointments are part of the due diligence process that intermediaries having more than 5 million Indian users have to follow.

“In spite of the three months’ time granted to all SSMIs [significant social media intermediaries] to comply with the IT Rules 2021 having expired on 26.05.2021, [Twitter] has failed to fully comply with the same,” the government said in the affidavit. 

An intermediary status is crucial to the functioning of platforms like Twitter as it guarantees them legal immunity from content posted on their platforms. In case a platform loses this conditional safe harbour, it will essentially mean that the platform can be held liable for any illegal content shared there, which exposes them to increased litigation.

Queries sent to Twitter did not elicit an immediate response.

Last month, Twitter’s interim grievance officer for India, Dharmendra Chatur, had quit. Following that, the social media company had appointed Jeremy Kessel, who is Twitter’s global legal policy director, as Chatur’s replacement. 

However, Kessel is based in the US, whereas the social media rules require the grievance officer to be based in India. 

The company in an affidavit filed on Sunday had informed the Delhi High Court that it was in the process of appointing compliance, nodal and grievance officers.

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