Microblogging platform Twitter on Monday sought more time from the Centre to comply with its new information technology rules, PTI reported.

“It [Twitter] has expressed its intent to comply with the rules but has been unable to do so because of the [coronavirus] pandemic,” an unidentified official told the news agency. According to the Hindustan Times, Twitter has asked the Centre for a week’s time.

An unidentified official from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology told the newspaper that Twitter highlighted difficulties in appointing certain officers.

However, Twitter assured the Centre that it was making all efforts to comply with the rules. “An overview on our progress has been duly shared,” a spokesperson for the microblogging site told PTI. “We will continue our constructive dialogue with the Indian Government.”

The company added that it was “deeply committed to India, and serving the vital public conversation taking place on the service”, according to the Hindustan Times.

On June 5, the Centre had sent a final notice to Twitter to comply with the IT rules. It asked the social media giant to appoint India-based officers, warning that failure to do so will lead to “unintended consequences”.

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The government highlighted that the grievance and nodal officers appointed by the company were not employees of Twitter India. “The officer address of Twitter Inc as mentioned by you is that of a law firm in India, which is also not as per the rules,” the Centre’s notice to Twitter said.

The government said May 26 was the last day for all social media companies to comply with the regulations and crticised Twitter for not meeting the deadline. “The refusal to comply demonstrates Twitter’s lack of commitment and efforts towards providing a safe experience for the people of India on its platform,” it said. “Despite being operational in India for more than a decade, it is beyond belief that Twitter Inc has doggedly refused to create mechanisms that will enable people of India to resolve their issues on the platform in a timely and transparent manner.”

Twitter had said it was concerned about the “potential threat” to freedom of expression as India’s new social media rules came into effect. The company had added that it will “strive to comply with applicable law” in India, but will be strictly guided by the principals of transparency.

New IT rules

A sweeping set of rules were issued on February 25 to regulate social media companies, streaming and digital news content. The new rules virtually bring these platforms, for the first time, under the ambit of government supervision.

Among other things, the “Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021” regulations mandated that social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Twitter, Signal and Facebook will now have to give details about the origin of a tweet or a message on being asked by either a court or a government authority. The regulation also requires social media companies to set up a three-tier grievance redressal framework.

The firms were given a three-month deadline to comply with the rules. On May 26, the Centre wrote to major social media platform, asking them for the status of their compliance to the rules “as soon as possible”.

Besides Twitter, WhatsApp has also been critical of the new rules. As the deadline to comply with the rules expired, the messaging platform moved the Delhi High Court challenging a provision of the rules, saying it was unconstitutional and against people’s fundamental right to privacy. The provision mandates the company to identify the “first originator of information” when authorities demand it.

Facebook and Google said they will ensure compliance with the rules.