Twitter line: everything you need to know
It’s a fairly rare scenario when a tech giant goes hand in hand with the government in power. Tuesday, Twitter, an American company social media The platform took the Indian government to the Karnataka High Court over its claim to remove content under the 2021 IT rules.
Here’s everything you need to know about the current fight:
In February 2021, the Indian government notified new Information Technology Rules (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Code of Ethics for Digital Media), 2021, in the exercise of powers under section 87(2) of the Information Technology Act 2000.
Under the new ruling, it mandates a grievance system for OTT (Over Top) and digital portals in the country. This was necessary for social media users to raise their grievances against the misuse of social media.
Social media companies must appoint a compliance officer and have a nodal contact person who can be in contact with law enforcement 24/7. Social media platforms will be required to appoint a compliance officer of grievances who will register the grievance within 24 hours in 15 days.
In addition, emphasis is placed on removing content of an explicit nature related to women and children. And, the government can request the social media platform to remove any content that is considered a threat to national security, national integrity, sovereignty and friendly relations with foreign countries, etc.
They will also have to publish a monthly report on the number of complaints received and the status of appeals.
There will be three levels of regulation for news publishers —
Level 1 – Self-regulation by the publisher,
Level 2 – Self-regulation by the publisher’s self-regulatory body, headed by a retired judge or eminent person, and
Level 3- Oversight mechanism overseen by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, including codes of practice and a grievance committee.
Many social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp have raised concerns about the unavailability of “safe harbour” protection remitted to intermediaries under Article 79 of the IT law, under the new rules, which will lead to the criminal liability of employees in the event of non-compliance by intermediaries.
The mandate to help authorities trace the originality of the streaming message by breaking the end-to-end encryption protocol is deemed problematic by intermediaries, which violates the user’s right to privacy.
Another concern was that the government could use this rule to suppress the voices of journalists, politicians and academics who oppose government decisions in the name of national security.
The current development
Over the years, the Indian government has asked Twitter to remove several accounts and tweets. In one case, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) warned the platform to remove accounts and content that supported the Independent State of Sikh or Khalistan. Posts spreading misinformation about the farmers’ protests and the Indian government’s handling of COVID-19 were also to be taken down.
The Indian government said the social media company failed to comply with the removal request, despite its legal status.
Despite several warnings over the months, Twitter has not accepted the government’s request and faces criminal charges. Hence, resulted in a violation of India’s rule of law.
According to Twitter, the Indian government has ordered to remove content without notifying the author, as well as some anti-government political content posted by political parties and critics that violates freedom of expression. Thus, sought judicial review of the procedural requirements of India’s Information Technology Act. Government officials are abusing their power to suppress any kind of disagreement that comes up against the government, he added.
Previously, WhatsApp sued the Indian government over new IT rules and now its Twitter. Interestingly, the resilience of foreign social media company has allowed Indian social media platform like Koo to grow. The company’s attitude towards the law of the land shows its arrogant nature. It becomes the duty of foreign companies to comply with the rule of the land they monetize from here. These social media companies have complied with European Union IT rules to operate, but it becomes problematic for them to follow Indian laws.
We also notice that a platform like Twitter has done tests on the governments of various countries. They deleted the account of incumbent US President Donald Trump, removed the verified mark of Indian Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, and temporarily blocked the account of Indian Home Minister Amit Shah and India’s former IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Former Twitter CEO Jack Dosery admitted in 2018 that Twitter is “left-wing” and that its algorithm removes right-wing content and spreads information about certain political ideologies. So, in turn, their free speech argument becomes fishy.
With the diversity in India, there are many anti-social elements working to disrupt the peace and harmony of the country. It has been discovered that a lot of misinformation is spread on these platforms by cross-border users, and it becomes important for the government to trace the origin of this information. And the new IT rules give this provision to the government.
But at the same time, the Indian government has abused its power to curb the voice against their operation, which is a danger to the democratic country. Accounts of influential figures, political leaders and journalists are withdrawn by the government from those who oppose government policy in the name of national security.
It is important for both parties to follow the law fairly; freedom of expression must not be compromised in any way, and it becomes the duty of the users of the platform and the company to refrain from spreading any anti-social content.