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Serious non-compliance of IT Rules: HC to Twitter

Wonders how the microblogging site can have contingent worker via a third-party contractor
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday took exception to Twitter’s submission that it has appointed “contingent workers” as the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) and the Resident Grievance Officer (RGO), a requirement laid down by the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 over three months back.

Justice Rekha Palli noted that Twitter’s affidavit shows “serious non-compliance” with the new IT Rules. “Twitter has no answer. What is this kind of compliance? How can you have a contingent worker through a third party contractor? Your affidavit says, ‘we will endeavour to appoint…’ Are you serious? Your company is making so much money, like the Centre is saying, and you’re saying we will make an endeavour to comply with the laws?” he said.

‘Transmuting Rules’
On the point of Twitter appointing “contingent workers through third party contractors,” Additional Solicitor-General Chetan Sharma interjected, “They are transmuting the Rules as if they were an urban company home service.”

The ASG who had, in an earlier hearing, underlined that Twitter is no longer eligible for safe harbour immunity against prosecution, asserted that the micro-blogging site is showing “repeated non-compliance by nuanced terminologies” and playing for time. “Twitter has generated more than $7 million of revenue and, yet, they are floundering to appoint officers as per the requirement of the law,” said Sharma..

In its submission to the court’s inquiry in the last hearing about what Twitter has done thus far to comply with the new IT Rules, the company’s Deputy General Counsel and Vice-President (Legal) Jim Baker told the court that it has, as on July 6, appointed a CCO and an RGO as contingent workers via a third party contractor and posted a job announcement for a CCO, RGO as well as a Nodal Contact Person as direct employees. Twitter said it is in the process of setting up a liaison office that will be its permanent physical address in India.

Stiff rejoinder by petitioner
The petitioners, through Advocate Akash Vajpayi, submitted a strong rejoinder to Twitter’s affidavit, stressing that the micro-blogging site had been notified about the new IT Rules as far back as February 25, but it has repeatedly failed to comply with them.

“…An RGO who is not an employee of the Respondent Number 2 (Twitter) or who is not legally entitled to be appointed as RGO will not be entitled to discharge all the aforesaid obligations under IT Rules, 2021 and his every decision passed in that capacity will be non-est and his every decision would cause further litigation and render its users remedyless,” said the petitioner’s July 26 rejoinder. The Hindu BusinessLine

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