The government’s ugly fracas with Twitter over the new IT rules may all but end with the American microblogging giant said to have agreed to make key appointments in line with statutory requirements. The officers would be based out of India, although they are likely to be employees of the parent company (headquarters) instead of the Indian operations, top sources said.
This would be the second instance in the last four months when Twitter has done a volte-face after taking a strong and opposing position - the first episode happening in February when it grudgingly agreed to take down over 1,400 accounts, but not before vociferously refusing to do so initially despite the IT Ministry’s diktat over taking action. The accounts had been flagged by the government with regards to ‘inflammatory’ tweets related to the farmers protests and the controversial farm laws.
The sources said that the company now seems to have mellowed down again after it received a green signal from the headquarters in the US with regards to the contentious issue of appointment of three statutory officers. These are for grievance redressal; compliance; apart from a nodal officer. When contacted, Twitter did not confirm, but said, “We have assured the Government of India that Twitter is making every effort to comply with the new Guidelines, and an overview on our progress has been duly shared. We will continue our constructive dialogue with the Indian Government."
Twitter also said that it “has been and remains deeply committed to India, and serving the vital public conversation taking place on the service.” The action by the company comes after the government warned it of “consequences” under IPC as it issued “one last notice” to the microblogging giant, asking it to comply with the statutory provisions or else risk losing legal immunity from any third-party content posted on the platform.
Twitter and the IT Ministry had been at loggerheads since the announcement of the new Rules. On May 27, Twitter – in a surprisingly scathing attack - accused the Indian government of “dangerous overreach that is inconsistent with open, democratic principles”, and said that it has been forced to ‘withhold’ (block in India) portions of “legitimate free speech” on its platform over fears around the safety of its employees and threats of financial penalties. The government had, however, shot back at the company, accusing it of deliberately subverting the law of the land and trying to “dictate” its terms even while using “opaque policies” to “arbitrarily” suspend user accounts and delete tweets.