May 29, 2024

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Information & Broadcasting Ministry asked Twitter why no manipulation tag for fake Ghaziabad clip?

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IT Min Ravi Shankar Prasad stated that Twitter had to tread on its own course and offer an explanation as to why it was reluctant to comply with new IT rules

Hours after Twitter lost its legal shield and intermediary tag in India, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad categorically stated that the social media giant had to tread on its own course and offer an explanation as to why it was reluctant to comply with India’s new IT rules. Speaking to Republic TV in an exclusive interview on Wednesday, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that social media companies had to follow the rule of the land and asserted that India wouldn’t compromise on its digital sovereignty.

Why were Ghaziabad videos not marked manipulated?: IT Minister

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad pulled up Twitter over the Ghaziabad incident and questioned where its fact-checkers were and why videos of the incident had not been marked manipulated. Noting that there should be a norm, the Union Minister said that those who tweeted the video of the Ghaziabad incident should be aware that it could spark communal tension. Responding to critics accusing the Center of attempting to violate the freedom of speech via the new IT laws, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asked why they maintained silence over the post-poll violence in West Bengal.

Elaborating on Twitter losing its legal shield in India, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad highlighted that the social media giant had not complied with the new IT laws within the stipulated time. He noted that Twitter was liable to face police inquiry and financial penalty as per the provisions in the new IT laws. Further, the Union Minister categorically stated that India did not need lessons on freedom of speech from Twitter and noted that the Center had asked the microblogging platform why it did not comply with the laws while other platforms had done so.

IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad explained what details would be sought from messaging platform WhatsApp under the new IT rules and busted myths involving infringement of the right to privacy. Speaking to Republic TV, the Union Minister said that WhatsApp would be asked to disclose the identity of the originator of a message if it had gone viral and led to riots, mob lynchings, involved the morphing of a woman’s picture, child pornography etc. Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad categorically stated that the Center would not ask WhatsApp to reveal the content of the message.

Twitter no longer an intermediary

On Wednesday, government sources had indicated to Republic that Twitter had lost its “safe harbour” immunity in India for its failure to comply with the IT rules. While the new guidelines came into force on May 26, the social media giant was issued a final compliance notice by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on June 5 as the former was seeking amendments. The Center had clearly warned Twitter that nonadherence will lead to unintended consequences including Twitter losing exemption from liability as an intermediary

However, government sources stated on Wednesday that Twitter has now lost intermediary status implying that it will be treated like any other digital news publisher now. This means that the platform’s top executives may face criminal liability under the Indian Penal Code for “unlawful” and “inflammatory” content posted by any user. Other significant social media intermediaries such as Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Koo, Sharechat, Telegram and LinkedIn enjoy this protection shield granted under Section 79 of the IT Act as they have complied with the new rules.

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