File photo: Twitter Inc. logo is seen in this photo. (AP)
File photo: Twitter Inc. logo is seen in this photo. (AP)

Interim compliance officer named: Twitter

The chief compliance officer will be liable for penal action under the new guidelines in case of violation or failure to follow the rules.
By Deeksha Bhardwaj, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUN 15, 2021 11:56 PM IST

Microblogging platform Twitter on Tuesday said that it has retained a chief compliance officer, ending a continuing stalemate with the government over the new social media and intermediary guidelines.

“We are keeping the MeitY apprised of the progress at every step of the process,” a Twitter spokesperson said. “An interim Chief Compliance Officer has been retained and details will be shared with the ministry directly soon. Twitter continues to make every effort to comply with the new guidelines.”

The chief compliance officer will be liable for penal action under the new guidelines in case of violation or failure to follow the rules.

On June 7, HT first reported that the microblogging platform had conveyed to the government that it was “committed to complying with the new rules”, even as it raised concerns regarding the safety of its employees in the country and intimidation by the police. The social media company sought a week from the ministry to comply with the key clauses of the new guidelines after the ministry issued it an ultimatum earlier this month. The government said Twitter would have to face “unintended consequences” that can involve it losing its legal protection from criminal liability for user content if it does not comply with the new rules for digital content.

The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, was notified in February, with all clauses of it coming into force on May 25. These guidelines require digital companies, such as Twitter, WhatsApp, and Facebook, to change how they regulate content, appoint nodal officers for compliance and grievance redressal, and adopt features such as traceability of messages and voluntary user verification.

There have been several instances of confrontation between the United States-based company and the government of India, particularly around the government’s content takedown orders and Twitter’s actions against prominent people linked to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for violation of its terms of use.

Against this backdrop, the new IT rules hardened the stand-off last month, with the microblogging website earlier asking for three months to comply, raising concerns over the “core elements” of the norms, and flagging potential threats to the safety of its employees after a visit by the Delhi Police the same month.

Twitter becomes the latest social media firm to convey to the ministry that it has met the requirements, with Google, WhatsApp and Facebook already sharing the details of the officers with the government. The new rules have been contested by several parties, including WhatsApp which has argued that the traceability provision mandated in the guidelines would violate end to end encryption.

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