Newly-appointed Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Thursday told Twitter that “the law of land is supreme” and urged the social media company to comply with the new IT rules, reported The Hindu. Vaishnaw, who replaced Ravi Shankar Prasad, was appointed the IT minister on Wednesday.
“Whoever is a citizen of India and those who stay in India will have to abide by the laws of the country,” he added.
Vaishnaw’s statement came amid tensions between the Centre and Twitter over the new information technology rules. Prasad and the central government have repeatedly criticised Twitter for not fully complying with the rules.
The new IT rules are a sweeping set of regulations – which were announced in February and became effective in May – framed to regulate social media companies, streaming and digital news content, virtually bringing them, for the first time, under the ambit of government supervision.
On Monday, the Centre had told the Delhi High Court that Twitter had lost its “safe harbour immunity” due to its non-compliance with the regulations. This means that Twitter will be stripped of the protection social media websites have against legal proceedings for unlawful content posted by users if the court accepts the Centre’s submission.
Earlier on Thursday, Twitter told the Delhi High Court that it will need eight weeks to appoint a grievance officer in compliance with the rules. Twitter’s response came a day after the High Court told the social media company that it cannot take as long as it wanted to appoint the official.
Apart from grievance officers, the government has directed social media platforms to appoint officers to ensure compliance with its rules and to coordinate with law enforcement agencies. Social media platforms with over 50 lakh users are also required to help identify the originators of messages upon the government’s request.
On Thursday, Twitter told the High Court that it had already appointed an Indian resident as the interim chief compliance officer and will choose a nodal official soon. The company told the court that it will unveil its first compliance report on July 11.
“While Twitter is striving to comply with the 2021 rules, Twitter reserves its right to challenge the legality, validity, and vires of the rules,” it said.