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Twitter Loses 'Legal Shield' in India, Gets Booked for 'Fuelling' Hindu-Muslim Feud in Uttar Pradesh

© REUTERS / Brendan McDermidThe Twitter logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., September 28, 2016.
The Twitter logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., September 28, 2016. - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.06.2021
In recent days, US-based media giant Twitter has been locking horns with the Indian government over an array of issues. After expressing concerns over India’s “threatened freedom of expression,” Twitter revealed its reservations against India’s new digital laws.

Twitter has lost its “legal shield” in India for not complying with the country's newly implemented social media rules, federal Minister of Information Technology (IT) Ravi Shankar Prasad revealed on Wednesday. 

In a series of tweets, Prasad questioned why Twitter has not complied with Indian legislation, especially as  Indian companies doing business in the US or other countries "voluntarily follow the local laws."

​Further, the minister said that it's "astounding that Twitter, which portrays itself as the flag bearer of free speech, chooses the path of deliberate defiance when it comes to the intermediary guidelines."

In this Feb. 2, 2013, file photo, a smartphone display shows the Twitter logo in Berlin, Germany, Twitter unsealed the documents Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, for its planned initial public offering of stock and says it hopes to raise up to $1 billion - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.06.2021
Ex-BJP Ally Shiv Sena Calls Twitter a 'Burden' on Modi Government Amid IT Rules Row
Now that Twitter has lost its legal shield in India, it will be treated as a content “publisher” and will be punished for posting anything “unlawful."

The development comes just hours after Twitter was booked by the authorities in Uttar Pradesh for stoking communal rivalry between Hindus and Muslim.

In connection with a recent case of violence against an elderly Muslim man in Ghaziabad, Twitter has been accused of allowing the video of the incident to go viral on its platform, used by over 100 million Indians, according to Statista.

The video shows the elderly man being trashed and his beard being forcibly cut.

​On 8 June, Twitter agreed to comply with some digital rules laid out by India by appointing both a grievance and nodal officer. 

Citing sources, Indian media reported that the appointed officers will be of Indian origin but will have to relocate from Twitter's headquarters in California.

India’s information technology (IT) rules announced in February mandate social media companies to appoint grievance and nodal officers to deal with user complaints and assist law enforcement agencies respectively.

One particular IT rule that has concerned networking apps is that which demands them to help security agencies trace the origin of certain problematic content on their respective platforms for investigations. 

The deadline to accept the rules expired on 25 May, after which the government of India asked the apps to submit their compliance reports.

Other media giants like YouTube and WhatsApp have also started hiring people to fill the new required roles in their India teams.

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