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Twitter appoints interim grievance redressal officer in India

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By Aihik Sur and Aroon Deep

During the hearing of a petition filed against Twitter that alleged non-compliance with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, the social media platform on Monday told the Delhi High Court that it has appointed a grievance redressal officer in line with the new rules, reports by the PTI, Bar and Bench said. MediaNama was able to verify from Twitter’s website that the company has appointed Dharmendra Chatur, a partner designate from the law firm representing Twitter at the Delhi High Court, as an interim grievance redressal officer. The help document on Twitter’s website did not include Chatur’s name the last time the page was archived by the Internet Archive, on January 30.

According to the report by Bar and Bench, Senior advocate Sajan Poovayya appearing for Twitter told Justice Rekha Palli that the entity which falls under the significant social media intermediary (SSMI) category under the new IT Rules, has appointed a GRO by a letter. The new rules require SSMIs to comply with additional due diligence such as appointing a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person, resident grievance officer.

The petition regarding non-compliance was filed on Friday by advocate Amit Acharya, a Twitter user himself, who claimed that he was unable to find details of a resident grievance officer on the microblogging platform’s website. “They were given 3 months to implement the rules but Twitter ignored them. In place of a grievance redressal officer based in India, Twitter currently has an office based in the United States of America. I tried raising my grievances, but I was not successful,” Acharya had told MediaNama.

On Monday, Twitter counsel Poovayya was quoted by Bar and Bench as saying, “As on the date of the filing of this petition, the rules were not complied. Subsequently (on May 28) they have been. I will file it on affidavit.” Although Palli said that the court would dispose of the matter today if the rules were complied with, Twitter pointed out that it will file its stance on an affidavit since Twitter Inc was a US entity, the report added.

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These developments come at a time when the social media platform has been embroiled in a tussle with the Indian government and the Delhi police. Firstly, Delhi Police had visited the offices of Twitter for filing a notice in connection with an investigation into an alleged Indian National Congress-created toolkit. After that Twitter issued a statement saying that it was “concerned” for its employees in India and “the potential threat to freedom of expression for the people we serve”.

While the Indian government did not take lightly to these statements and condemned them, the conflagration with the administration is also due to compliance with the new IT Rules. Earlier, Twitter had raised concerns around the requirement of making additional appointments, especially regarding the provisions of making the chief compliance officer criminally liable for content on the platform.

On Monday, Justice Palli also made it clear that Twitter has to comply with the new Information Technology Rules if they have not been stayed. The matter will be next heard on July 6, with the court allowing Twitter Inc to file its response and the petitioner to file a rejoinder in this regard.

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Among other subjects, I cover the increasing usage of emerging technologies, especially for surveillance in India

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