New Delhi: The government has warned the top executives of Twitter of imposing a seven-year imprisonment period along with financial penalties if they do not remove any ‘objectionable and inflammatory content’ prevalent in some user accounts. According to sources, Twitter executives may violate the country’s IT laws if they delay the procedure to remove the objectionable content from their site. A failure to remove this content or inordinate delays in complying with the government’s request is seen to be a violation of the country’s IT laws.
The government stated that if Twitter is unresponsive or fails to comply with the Indian IT Act, then appropriate action would be taken under Section 69A. According to Section 69A of the IT Act, the government has the power to ensure that certain user accounts are blocked if they carry contents that are detrimental to the sovereignty and integrity of the country and are likely to create public disorder. The IT Act states that if any intermediary, including the internet platform, which does not follow the government’s direction “shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine.”
Meanwhile, the government is currently planning to bring all the Intermediary companies under the ambit of Indian laws. According to the draft IT [Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules], 2018, an online company with over 50 lakh users in India should have a permanent registered office within the country and a nodal person of contact.
Recently, Twitter also faced flak from the parliamentary standing committee for perceived biases while blocking accounts ahead of the general election. Unfortunately, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey was not available for the questioning session by a panel. The Election Commission has also asked the social media giants namely Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to verify all the political advertisements coming from various political parties. Further, the Chief Election Commissioner of India informed that a grievance officer has been appointed to take complaints related to these advertisements on all social media platforms.