Twitter loses immunity over user-generated content in India

Microblogging platform Twitter did not comply with the new Information Technology Rules, and has therefore lost its immunity, provided to intermediaries under Section 79(1) of the Information Technology Act, 2000, the government has told the Delhi High Court. The statement is the first time Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has officially said that Twitter has lost its immunity after repeatedly criticizing the company for non-compliance.

Controversy and public controversy have raised concerns that US firms will find it difficult to do business amid a more stringent regulatory environment. India’s IT ministry told the High Court in New Delhi that Twitter’s non-compliance amounted to a breach of the provisions of the IT Act, causing the U.S. firm to lose its immunity, according to the filing dated July 5. The filing came in a case filed by a Twitter user who wanted to complain about some allegedly defamatory tweets on the platform, and said the company was not complying with the new law that requires appointment of certain new executives. Twitter declined to comment. The company has previously said it was making all efforts to comply.

India’s new IT rules which became effective end-May are aimed at regulating content on social media firms and making them more accountable to legal requests for swift removal of posts and sharing details on the originators of messages. In recent weeks, as acrimony grew between New Delhi and Twitter, Indian police have filed at least five cases against the company or its officials, including some related to child pornography and a controversial map of India on its career page.