India to Twitter: Comply with IT rules or face 'unintended consequences'



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo in this illustration picture taken September 27, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration/File Photo

By Sankalp Phartiyal

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India has told Twitter Inc (NYSE:) it has one last chance to comply with new IT rules, or face “unintended consequences” according to a copy of an official letter seen by Reuters.

The new rules – which were announced in February and which became effective at the end of last month – are aimed at regulating content on social media and making firms such as Facebook (NASDAQ:), its WhatsApp messenger and Twitter more accountable to legal requests.

They also require big social media companies to set up grievance redressal mechanisms and appoint new executives to coordinate with law enforcement.

India’s technology ministry wrote to Twitter on May 26 and May 28 on the new rules, but the company’s responses “neither address the clarifications sought by this ministry nor indicate full compliance with the Rules,” said the June 5 letter from the technology ministry to Twitter deputy general counsel Jim Baker.

The letter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, said that among other things, Twitter had yet to inform the ministry about its chief compliance officer, and its grievance officer and nodal contact person were not employees as mandated by rules.

It said such non-compliance would lead to “unintended consequences” including the possibility that Twitter could be held accountable for content posted on it, an exemption it currently largely enjoys.

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It added, “However, as gesture of goodwill, Twitter Inc is hereby given one last notice to immediately comply with the Rules.”

The technology ministry did not respond to a request for comment. Twitter declined to comment.

The new IT rules have spurred legal battles, including a lawsuit filed by Facebook-owned WhatsApp that accuses the government of exceeding its legal powers by enacting rules that will force the messaging app to break end-to-end encryption.

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