The Central Government of India sent ‘one last notice’ to Twitter over not yielding to their social media rules.
According to their requirements in February, social media platforms had been asked to designate a resident grievance officer, a chief compliance officer, and a nodal contact person as required by the government by May 26.
However, this had not been done. Then too, Twitter had briefly removed the “blue tick” verification badge from the personal account of Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, and on RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and other leaders too lost the blue-tick verification badge mainly due to “inactivity.
This led to the BJP right-wing groups starting a trend, #BanTwitterInIndia on Twitter itself and probably prompted the Center in retaliation on Saturday to issue “one last notice” to Twitter over selecting India-based officers as per the country’s new rules for social media companies, failing which, the government said, it will face “consequences” as per the IT Act and other penal laws.
Problems seem to be escalating between the central government and the microblogging site and Rakesh Maheshwari, Group Coordinator, Cyberlaw, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology writes a letter to Twitter starting, “Twitter Inc. is hereby given one last notice to immediately comply with the Rules, failing which the exemption from liability available under section 79 of the IT Act, 2000 shall stand withdrawn and Twitter shall be liable for consequences as per the IT Act and other penal laws of India.”
The notice signed by Rakesh Maheshwari, group coordinator of cyber law, Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology also said, “The refusal to comply demonstrates Twitter’s lack of commitment and efforts towards providing a safe experience for the people of India on its platform. Despite being operational in India for more than a decade, it is beyond belief that Twitter Inc. has doggedly refused to create mechanisms 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. Leave alone proactively creating such a mechanism, Twitter Inc. is in the inglorious bracket of refusing to do so even when mandated by law.”
Meantime abroad, Twitter deleted Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet referring to the country’s civil war in a warning about the recent unrest in the southeast. Nigeria’s information ministry said Twitter was “suspended, indefinitely,” because of “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.
Twitter has been involved in a scuffle with the Indian government since February after the Union technology ministry asked it to block content alleging PM Modi’s administration was trying to silence criticism related to farmers’ protests in the country.
After this, India announced new rules that aim to make social media platforms more accountable to legal requests for speedy removal of posts not supported by the Center and ordered the appointment of an Indian grievance officer to deal with complaints.
Last month, Twitter’s classification as “manipulated media” of the posts by BJP leaders had drawn a sharp response from the Center, not accepting it was fake news. These controversies triggered sparks with Twitter expressing concerns about the lack of freedom of expression and the safety of its staff in India after Delhi police visited its offices in the national capital.
It is evident that the tussle between the Center and the powerful microblogging social platform is going to continue unless both can arrive at a peaceful consensus.