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Twitter could lose its safe harbor in India — but it’s complicated

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Twitter might lose its safe harbor protection in India, as the company is yet to comply with the country’s new intermediary rules. This means it’ll be liable for all content posted on the site by users and can be subject to penal action. But it’s not straightforward.

While there’s no official word, government sources told ANI that it’s the only major social network that hasn’t taken necessary steps to comply with the rules:

Twitter to lose its status as intermediary platform in India as it does not comply with new guidelines, it is the only social media platform among mainstream that has not adhered to new laws.

Ameet Datta, a lawyer, noted that while the government will have to get a court order to remove Twitter’s intermediary status.

Additionally, Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), a digital rights organization, wrote an explainer stating there’s no clear registered certification for intermediaries. Plus, only courts could decide if an entity protected under intermediary rules or not.

That said, given the political climate in the country, it’s fairly likely that Twitter will find itself mired in legal quandaries in India over content posted on its platform in the near future.

These guidelines — which came into effect on May 26 — require a large social network with more than 5 million users to appoint a nodal official, a compliance officer, and a grievance officer in the country to address concerns relating to the content it hosts.

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While last month, the firm appointed an interim nodal and grievance officer, they’re not a Twitter employee as required by the rules. The company said that it has opened up job postings for all these roles and will provide details soon.

In a statement, the company said that it’s informing the IT ministry of all the steps it has taken to meet compliance:

We’re keeping MeitY (Ministry of Electronics & IT) apprised of progress at every step of the process. The interim chief compliance officer has been retained and details will be shared with Ministry directly soon. Twitter continues to make every effort to comply with new guidelines

Last night, cops lodged a complaint against Twitter in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh related to tweets on the assault of an elderly person in the area. If the social network loses its safe harbor protection, authorities can take action against the company for a user’s objectionable tweets.

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