Twitter loses intermediary status: What does it mean for Twitter and its users?

Published on Jun 16, 2021 11:56 AM IST

Twitter will be responsible for the posts and will not be treated as a third party in India.

Twitter will be held responsible for what anyone posts on the platform until it gets back the legal protection in India. (AP)
Twitter will be held responsible for what anyone posts on the platform until it gets back the legal protection in India. (AP)
By | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh

Twitter became the first US-based social media platform to lose legal protection in India, following a series of events that amplified the disagreement between the government and the social media platform. Twitter, however, continues to maintain its cooperative stance and has said that it is making every effort to comply with the new guideline.

What this means for Twitter

Twitter will now be held responsible for tweets, data hosted by it. It will not be considered as a platform hosting something that somebody has tweeted, but it will be editorially responsible for the posts.

According to an ANI report, Twitter has been named in an FIR filed by the Uttar Pradesh Police in connection with an incident in Ghaziabad. So, Twitter is not immune to criminal charges for what somebody posts on the platform. Its top executives may now be questioned for any content that the authorities feel unlawful, inflammatory etc.

If there is any charge against Twitter, then it will be liable for any punishment under any law, including the Indian Penal Code.

If Twitter decides to comply with the IT rules, it may again come under the legal cover of a third party.

What does Section 79 of the Information Technology Act 2020 say?

An intermediary will be exempted from liability for any third-party information, data or communication link made available or hosted by it. It will be exempted if the function of the intermediary is "limited to providing access to a communication system over which information made available by third parties is transmitted or temporarily stored or hosted".

The exemption is provided if the intermediary does not initiate the transmission, select the receiver of the transmission and select or modify the information.

Will Twitter users be affected? Will Twitter be banned?

No, the withdrawal of the intermediary status does not mean either of the two. There will be no impact on Twitter users.

Why Twitter lost the legal cover

IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Twitter has failed to comply with the intermediary guidelines which were introduced on March 25 and came into effect on May 26. Twitter was given multiple opportunities but it "deliberately" chose to not comply. On India's mico-blogging platform, the minister posted his statement and said Twitter chooses to flag content "only when it suits".

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