Is the Twitter-India standoff over?

Social media giant Twitter has sought more time from the government to comply with new IT rules, according to media reports. This possibly marks an end to the standoff between Twitter and the Indian government.

This comes after the administration sent a "final notice" to Twitter to abide by the new regulations under the Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code Rules, 2021. The new rules were passed in February this year and had come into force on May 26, 2021.

In the latest communication, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (Meity) said that since Twitter had not complied with the rules, it is "hereby given one last notice to immediately comply with the rules, failing which the exemption from liability available…shall stand withdrawn and Twitter shall be liable for consequences as per the IT Act and other penal laws of India."

Catching up: Twitter has asked the Indian government for more time to comply with their aggressive new social media rules.  (Source: Marten Bjork on Unsplash)
Catching up: Twitter has asked the Indian government for more time to comply with their aggressive new social media rules.
(Source: Marten Bjork on Unsplash)

The rules demand that the internet and social media firm, with more than 5 million users in the country, needs to employ a compliance officer, grievance officer and a nodal officer based in India.

They also mandate that the social media platform will need to comply with requests from government agencies to remove content within 36 hours.

Heavy hand of the law

Twitter had earlier raised the fact that the compliance officer can be criminally liable for the content on the website. It was also concerned about the high-handed attitude of the Indian government.

While other social media firms, like Google, had complied with the new rules, Twitter had resisted. However, WhatsApp, along with Facebook, has filed a case against the Indian government regarding the traceability requirement of the new regulations.

"Despite being operational in India for more than a decade, it is beyond belief that Twitter Inc has doggedly refused to create a mechanism that will enable the people of India to resolve their issues on the platform in a timely and transparent manner and through fair processes, by India based, clearly identified resources," says the Meity letter.

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Twitter would likely try to find a middle ground to continue to operate in India. However, once it agrees to the new regulations, the company might be asked to comply with similar requests and rules in other countries.

On the other hand, the Indian Government needs to control (and not ban) Twitter because it is gaining a reputation for not providing a conducive environment for international firms to operate.

Not too long back, Vodafone had threatened to exit India. India needs foreign investments for economic growth.

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— Gagandeep Kaur, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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