Twitter Not Transparent On 'Manipulated Media' Tag Policy: Govt To LS

The Centre and the Delhi High Court had pulled up Twitter over serious non-compliance with the new IT Rules.

Twitter is violating the principles of natural justice and has been urged to be transparent and equitable in applying the criteria for manipulated media, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) told the Lok Sabha today. However, the government said that the issue of 'manipulated media' does not fall under the purview of its new 'Intermediary guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code, Rules 2021' (IT Rules, 2021) which was enacted earlier this year in February.

The labelling of certain messages as 'Manipulated Media' is in accordance with Twitter's "Synthetic and Manipulated Media Policy" which has not been shared with this government, Minister of State for Information and Technology Rajiv Chandrashekar said in a written reply to a query posed by YSRCP leader KRR Krishna Raju.

Chandrashekhar added that the government has engaged with Twitter on this issue since specific details of how this policy is applicable have not been made available. The Centre on May 21 had sent a strongly worded notice to Twitter asking it to drop the 'manipulated media' to "tweets made by Indian political leaders with reference to a toolkit created to undermine, derail and demean the efforts of the Government against the Covid-19 pandemic".

The Centre's move came hours after Twitter tagged a May 18 tweet by BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra as 'manipulated media' in which he alleged that Congress had circulated a toolkit to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

However, Chandrashekhar's response to the Lok Sabha comes even as media reports suggest a thaw of Twitter's stand-off with the government over the former's lack of compliance with the new IT Rules. It has been reported that Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw may meet representatives of significant social media intermediaries as soon as the Monsoon session of the Parliament concludes.

Twitter has not complied with new IT Rules

The Centre also informed the Lok Sabha that Twitter has not complied with the provisions of the IT Rules which required them to appoint key functionaries including Chief Compliance Officer, Nodal Contact Person and the Resident Grievance Officer (all must be Indian citizens residing in India), along with a local address.

On May 26, Twitter missed the deadline to comply with the Centre's new IT rules when it failed to appoint key functionaries in accordance with the amended law. The Delhi High Court on July 8 had said the government could take action against Twitter for failing to appoint the functionaries as mandated by law. In subsequent affidavits, Twitter submitted that it had appointed interim functionaries to fulfil the mandate. However, the high court had rejected the use of the term "interim".

On July 28, the high court once again took strong objection to Twitter appointing Vinay Prakash, the new Resident Grievance Officer (RGO) and Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), as a "contingent worker" whose services have been contracted through a third party which was "serious non-compliance of the rules."

Also Read: Twitter In Serious Non-Compliance With IT Rules: Delhi HC


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