A months-long bitter standoff between the centre and Twitter officially came to an end with the government formally informing a high court on Friday that the microblogging platform had appointed a chief compliance officer, nodal officer and resident grievance officer for India in compliance with the new social media rules.
In an affidavit filed with the Delhi High Court, the government said that Twitter has made these appointments as its employees and not as “contingent workers”, a term which had initially irked both high court and centre. The government has also received a copy of these people’s contacts, it said in the affidavit.
The affidavit was filed by N. Samaya Balan, who works as Scientist-E, in the Cyber Law Group of the IT Ministry. Entrackr has seen a copy of it. The affidavit came in a case filed by lawyer Amit Acharya, in which he claimed non-compliance with the new social media rules by Twitter.
Last month we had reported that Twitter had made these appointments. Vinay Prakash was appointed as the chief compliance and grievance officer while former Bytedance executive Shahin Komath was appointed as the nodal contact person.
Twitter had earlier made appointments to these posts on an “interim” basis and later told the court that these were “contingent” workers appointed by a third party contractor. However, the court had given the company an earful over the use of the term ‘contingent’ and had given Twitter a last chance to comply with the rules.
This brings to close a hotly contested battle between the government and Twitter.
Twitter had initially appointed an interim grievance officer, Dharmendra Chatur, who quit within weeks of appointment because of the “precipitation going around” between the microblogging website and the Indian government and he did not want to put himself into that.
The tension between the two reached its peak after government sources said that the company had lost its legal immunity against third party content posted to its site over its compliance with the rules — a controversial stand that the government would later also take formally in the court.
But before that, a number of events had transpired. Former IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Twitter, for a long time, were locked in a public war of words. And Prasad’s replacement, Ashwini Vaishnaw, said that Twitter is not above the law of the land on his first day of taking charge of the IT Ministry.
In May, Delhi Police’s anti-terror wing descended on Twitter’s Delhi and Gurugram offices to serve the company a notice. Twitter called it “intimidation” but according to the police it was a “routine process”.