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Twitter appoints resident grievance officer in India to comply with new internet rules

·2-min read

Twitter has appointed a resident grievance officer in India days after the American social media firm said to have lost the liability protection on user-generated content in the South Asian nation over non-compliance with local IT rules.

On Sunday, Twitter identified Vinay Prakash as its new resident grievance officer and shared a way to contact him as required by India’s new IT rules, which was unveiled in February this year and went into effect in late May. Twitter has also published a compliance report, another requirement listed in the new rules.

Earlier this week, the Indian government had told a local court that Twitter had lost the liability protection on user-generated content in the country, as it had failed to appoint compliance, grievance and a so-called nodal contact officials to address on-ground concerns.

Other internet giants including Facebook, Google, and Telegram have already appointed these local compliance officers in India.

Internet services enjoy what is broadly referred to as “safe harbor” protection that say that tech platforms won’t be held liable for the things their users post or share online. If you insult someone on Twitter, for instance, the company may be asked to take down your post (if the person you have insulted has approached the court and a takedown order has been issued) but it likely won’t be held legally responsible for what you said or did.

Without the protection, Twitter — which according to mobile insight firm App Annie, has over 100 million users in India — is on paper responsible for everything those users say on its platform. Indian police have already filed at least five cases against the company or its officials in the country over a range of issues.

The new development should help assuage the tension between Twitter and the Indian government. A special squad of Delhi police made a surprise visit to two of Twitter’s offices in late May in what many perceived as an intimidation tactic. Twitter said at the time that it was “concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression for the people we serve” and requested the Indian government to grant it three additional months to comply with the new IT rules.

Earlier this week, Twitter told an Indian court that it was working to "fully comply" with the new rules.

More countries are formulating similar requirements for tech giants in their nations. Russia President Vladimir Putin signed a law that mandates foreign social media giants to open offices in Russia. Any social firm with a daily user base of 500,000 people or more is required to comply with the new law.

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