The ongoing controversy between the microblogging site Twitter and the Government of India has taken a new move on the 16th of June when Twitter lost its intermediary status in India. this action has been done by the Government of India after sending the repeated notices to Twitter to comply with the new IT rules which came into effect on the 26th of May.
In simpler words, losing off the intermediary status means that section 79 of the IT Act which is the “safe harbour provision” will not be applicable on this social media entity.
Section 79 defines the safe harbour provision and says that any intermediary shall not be held legally or otherwise liable for any third-party data, information or communication made available or hosted on its platform. This protection shall be applicable if the intermediary does not in any way initiate the transmission of the message in question, select the receiver of the transmission and does not modify any information contained in the transmission
That means as long as all in the intermediary is acting as a message carrier between two different parties without interfering it will be safe from any legal prosecution brought upon due to the message.
The implication of this is that if there are any charges against Twitter for alleged illegal or unlawful content it would now be treated as a publisher and not as an intermediary and be liable for punishment under Indian laws including the IT Act and other penal laws of the country.
However, that doesn’t mean Twitter can be automatically booked for the offences the safe harbour provision is still a valid and legal defence for them. What now changes is that courts can decide the liability of Twitter up to some extent.
One of the possible ways forward I see is Twitter should comply with the current IT rules of the country and must appoint the requisite officers that are the chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and grievance redressal officer for the smooth grievance redressal system which will help in curbing the menace of fake information.