A senior Twitter India executive has resigned amid growing tensions between social media companies and the government.
Dharmendra Chatur was recently appointed as the company’s Temporary Permanent Complaint Officer.
He was one of three positions that all large social media companies are expected to meet under the controversial new digital media rules.
Twitter hasn’t commented on his resignation, but Chatur’s name hasn’t appeared on the site according to the rules.
A new rule, officially called the Information Technology (Interim Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rule, was announced in February.
They require social media companies to appoint three full-time executives. One for compliance, the other for dealing with user dissatisfaction, and the third for 24-hour coordination with law enforcement agencies.
Companies should also remove content within 36 hours of legal order and use automated processes to remove offensive content such as pornography.
The Ministry of Information Technology said that two of the new employees appointed by Twitter are not employees, the address of the listed office is the address of the law firm, and the details of the third employer, the chief compliance officer, are revealed. He said he didn’t. Criminal liability for violations.
Twitter retains an interim chief compliance officer and does not answer questions about compliance issues, except for a brief statement that “Twitter is making every effort to comply with the new guidelines.”
But Chatur’s resignation is even more complicated, especially as it comes a few days after the company’s managing director. Obtained a temporary amnesty from the court From the police summons. The order is currently protecting him from arrest, but the case is still open.
The trigger was a video shared on the platform (which allegedly shows a hate crime). A 72-year-old Muslim man was beaten and his beard was cut off. Many people, including prominent journalists, shared the video.
Police in Ghaziabad, near the country’s capital, Delhi, said religion was not the motive and attackers were dissatisfied with the amulets that Muslim men sold them. They arrested six people in the attack.
they He also filed a complaint against Twitter India under serious criminal charges., News website The Wire, three journalists and three politicians from the opposition Parliamentary Party who shared a video on “Intentions to Cause Community Unrest.” Non-Muslims also shared the video, but all six are Muslims.
On June 21, Twitter limited 50 tweets in India, most of which were controversial videos. The Indian head of the company offered to meet the police via video chat. But they sent another notice asking him to appear directly.
Social media company executives are rarely summoned via posts on the platform. Like telephone companies, these companies are “intermediaries” under Indian law who are not responsible for posting on the site. We will comply with the law and remove content if required by law.
However, the Indian federal government has stated that Twitter could lose its intermediate protection because it did not comply with the new IT rules.
“The Government of India is setting an example for Twitter to send a strong message to all foreign companies,” said journalist and digital rights activist Nikhil Pahwa. “China is the envy. I want to have more control over foreign players operating on the internet in India.”
Losing the status of “intermediary” can make the life of a social media company very difficult. Religious sentiment is easily hurt in India. For example, a cartoon about a cow that is considered holy by Hindus could open the lock to thousands of complaints related to the platform and its executives. The proceedings against Twitter can be the first of many.
Twitter isn’t the only one in conflict with the government. Last month WhatsApp sued the government over the rules, It says it forces you to invade your privacy. The Facebook-owned app is India’s largest messenger platform with over 400 million Indian users, one-fifth of the world’s customers.
WhatsApp Particular opposition to rules that require tracking of the originator of a messageAccording to the company, it is forced to decrypt and read and save all messages. No, government officials say: WhatsApp must find a way to do this without breaking the encryption. However, the company said in a statement that it would still require WhatsApp to “keep the fingerprints of every message sent” in the database, breaking encryption and undermining people’s right to privacy.
This rule affects other encrypted platforms such as Signal and Apple’s iMessage. However, for now, government attention is fixed on WhatsApp.
This rule is First drafted in 2019 following dozens of rumors transferred on WhatsApp: About child kidnapping, cattle slaughter, and other news that turned out to be fake but led to lynching. The government wants WhatsApp to help investigate other crimes, including fake news and terrorism. But giving up encryption to solve crime is Faust’s bargain, privacy activists say.
The United Nations is also worried.UN Special Rapporteur Express serious concern India’s new IT rules could lead to human rights abuses and curb freedom of speech. “Intermediaries will over-respond to removal requests to limit their responsibilities,” they said in a letter.
The letter also states that the new rules will provide the power to censor journalists. But even before these rules Journalists face criminal accusations and criminal charges..
As it happens, this rule is intended for news publishers in another comprehensive section, governed by another ministry of information and broadcasting. The compliance burden is cumbersome and involves the process of handling complaints and deleting content. The National Broadcasters Association has urged the government to exclude digital news from mainstream media houses from the rules. The government refused.
The mediation rules have triggered other proceedings. Thirteen media said they challenged them and aimed to “lead the era of surveillance and horror.” Delhi’s lawyer sued Twitter for violating the rules, in Chennai singer and artist TM Krishna sued in court, and the rules affected his rights as an artist by imposing a chilling effect on the right to freedom of speech and privacy. Said to give.
One of the first petitions against the rules was filed in March by lawyer Sanjay K Singh. Mr Shin told the BBC that the rules violated his constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech. He points to a groundbreaking ruling on strict IT Rule 66A, which criminalized posting “offensive” comments online.
Supreme Court overthrows 66A, And said that intermediaries should not be forced to evaluate thousands of requests to pull down content, but should act in response to legitimate requests to remove specific content. It was.
“These new rules go against the wording and spirit of the ruling,” says Shin. “It seems that what they really want to do is remove content that is critical of the government.” His proceedings are still underway.