Union Information and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday said Twitter failed to comply with intermediary guidelines and has "deliberately" chosen the path of non-compliance despite being granted multiple opportunities.
Lashing out at the micro-blogging platform over non-compliance, Ravi Shankar Prasad said that it is "astounding" that Twitter that portrays itself as the flag bearer of free speech, chooses the path of deliberate defiance when it comes to the Intermediary Guidelines.
In a series of tweets, Ravi Shankar Prasad said: "There are numerous queries arising as to whether Twitter is entitled to safe harbour provision. However, the simple fact of the matter is that Twitter has failed to comply with the Intermediary Guidelines that came into effect from the 26th of May."
He also said that Twitter was given multiple opportunities to comply with the new IT rules but it “deliberately chose the path of non-compliance”.
“The culture of India varies like its large geography. In certain scenarios, with the amplification of social media, even a small spark can cause a fire, especially with the menace of fake news. This was one of the objectives of bringing the Intermediary Guidelines. It is astounding that Twitter which portrays itself as the flag bearer of free speech, chooses the path of deliberate defiance when it comes to the Intermediary Guidelines,” the Union Minister said.
On the Uttar Pradesh incident, Ravi Shankar Prasad said it was illustrative of Twitter’s arbitrariness in fighting fake news. "What happened in UP was illustrative of Twitter’s arbitrariness in fighting fake news. While Twitter has been over enthusiastic about its fact checking mechanism, it’s failure to act in multiple cases like UP is perplexing & indicates its inconsistency in fighting misinformation," he said.
The Union Minister also said, “Indian companies be it pharma, IT or others that go to do business in USA or in other foreign countries, voluntarily follow the local laws. Then why are platforms like Twitter showing reluctance in following Indian laws designed to give voice to the victims of abuse and misuse?”
According to reports, Twitter has lost its 'safe harbour' protection in India over non-compliance with IT rules and failure to appoint key personnel mandated under the new guidelines, despite repeated reminders, and the platform will now be liable for action under the Indian Penal Code for third party unlawful content.
Earlier this month, the government had given one last chance to Twitter to comply with the new IT rules, that came into effect on May 26, and had issued a stern warning that failure to adhere to the norms will lead to the platform losing exemption from liability under the IT Act.
(With inputs from Agencies)