India high court orders Twitter to comply with new technology rules

Justice Rekha Palli in the Delhi High Court in India ordered US social media giant Twitter to comply with the country’s recently-enacted technology rules on Monday after it allegedly failed to appoint a Resident Grievance Officer (RGO).

A petition to the court alleged Twitter had not been complying with the new rules when Twitter user Amit Acharya discovered “defamatory, false and untrue” tweets had been made about him but there was no RGO to take the issue to. The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Ethics Code) Rules 2021 give Twitter users a right to complain about defamatory tweets and falsehoods published about them on the social media site to the RGO.

Palli gave Twitter three weeks before the next court hearing to employ an RGO. Twitter argued it had employed an RGO in late May, thereby complying with the new rules.

Local news reported that during the hearing, Palli was clear about the approach Indian courts will take to enforcing the new technology rules. She said that “if the rules are there, as long as they are not stayed … they have to follow it. It is very simple, if the rules are there, there is no choice, you have to [comply].”

The country’s new technology rules were introduced in February and came into force on May 25. They prohibit digital content publishers from hosting unlawful material, prescribe an ethical code and regulate content. At the time, the Indian government said “the Government welcomes social media companies to operate in India, do business and also earn profits. However, they will have to be accountable to the Constitution and laws of India.”