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Twitter Has Lost Its Intermediary Status In India

Twitter Has Lost Its Intermediary Status In India:

According to some media reports, Twitter has lost its intermediary status in India over non-compliance of the new IT rules that came into effect on May 26.

  • As per Section 2 (1) of the Information Technology Act, an intermediary is a person/entity that receives, stores and transmits information or provides service for the transmission of information
  • This includes telecom service providers, network service providers, internet service providers, search engines, online payment sites, online auction sites, online marketplaces and even cyber cafes.
  • Please note, intermediary status is not a registration granted by the government.
  • Intermediaries like Twitter are protected under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act that states that they cannot be held liable for the third-party content published on their platform as long as they comply with the legal order to take down content from courts or other authorities.

Safe Harbour Protection:

  • Consider, a user’s tweets go viral and that results in death or violence. Now, under safe harbour protection, Twitter cannot be held liable just because of it.
  • However, they will have to take down the content if they get a legal order from the court or authorities. This is what termed safe harbour protection.

In the short run, since the protection accorded to Twitter under Section 79 of the IT Act is now gone, it opens up the platform to the possibility of any and all penal action that is likely to be taken against it as a publisher of content.

  • This means that if someone puts out any content on Twitter that leads to some form of violence, or violates any Indian law with respect to content, not only the person that has put out the tweet will be held responsible, even Twitter will be legally liable for the content as it no longer has the protection.