Twitter appoints interim Chief Compliance Officer for India as mandated under new IT rules

Can be liable for any content posted by any user on its platform, sources

Updated - June 16, 2021 11:17 am IST

Published - June 15, 2021 09:51 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Photo used for representation purpose only. File

Photo used for representation purpose only. File

Twitter on Tuesday said it has appointed an interim Chief Compliance Officer and the details of the official will be shared directly with the IT Ministry soon.

The move came after the government had given one last chance to Twitter to comply with the new IT rules , as the microblogging platform had not made immediate appointments of key personnel, mandated under the new guidelines that came into effect on May 26.

A Twitter spokesperson on Tuesday said the company continues to make every effort to comply with the new guidelines, and is keeping the IT Ministry apprised of progress at every step of the process.

An interim Chief Compliance Officer has been retained and details will be shared with the Ministry directly soon, the spokesperson added.

Despite its assurance to the government on June 5 to provide details of a Chief Compliance Officer within a week, microblogging platform Twitter has failed to do so thus far. It has instead informed the government that it has posted job descriptions for required roles and will fill these as quickly as possible, The Hindu has learnt.

According to an official source, due to non-compliance with the new IT Rules , Twitter may no longer be classified as an intermediary, and there will be no separate order from the government on this. By losing its intermediary status, the U.S.-headquartered social media platform can now be held liable for any content posted by any user on its platform.

Also read: New IT rules | Centre seeks compliance report from intermediaries

Interim appointment

“Twitter continues to make every effort to comply with the new Guidelines. We are keeping the MeitY [Ministry of Electronics and IT] apprised of the progress at every step of the process,” says an emailed response from the company.

In its latest communication to the MeitY on June 13, Twitter has only said that they have posted job descriptions to hire Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), Nodal Contact Person (NCP) and Resident Grievance Officer (RGO), and that they will endeavour to fill these roles as quickly as possible, the source said, adding that this is contrary to their own promise and assurance. “They have not appointed a CCO even on an interim basis.”

“Twitter has further conveyed a purported advice of a purported consultant that establishing a India office of Twitter Inc. is necessary for hiring Chief Compliance Officer on a permanent basis. No one prevented Twitter from appointing a CCO as an interim arrangement,” the source added.

Also read: House panel on IT summons Twitter

The source further added that in its email sent on June 2, Twitter told the government that they have appointed a lawyer working in a law firm — Dharmendra Chatur — as an interim Nodal Contact Person and Resident Grievance Officer. Mr Chatur was not an employee of Twitter as required by the Guidelines.

The Rule 7, the source said, clearly states that where an intermediary fails to observe these rules, the provisions of sub-section (1) of section 79 of the Act shall not be applicable and the intermediary shall be liable for punishment under any law for the time being in force including the provisions of the Act and the Indian Penal Code.

“Since, the Rules came into effect on May 26, and Twitter has not complied, the Rule 7 and the course suggested therein appears to have come into effect,” the source said.

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