India police organization files case against Twitter for child pornography
Edar / Pixabay
India police organization files case against Twitter for child pornography

The Delhi Police Cyber Cell on Monday filed a case against Twitter Inc. & Twitter Communication India Pvt. Ltd. for failing to take action on a complaint by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPR). The NCPR had filed a complaint in May for cases of child pornographic content on the micro-blogging platform.

The NCPR is India’s apex statutory body for the protection of child rights. It said that when it initially sent a notice to Twitter India for action on the abusive content on their platform, Twitter India replied that the company Twitter Inc., an entity based in the US, is responsible for acting on the complaint and that Twitter India is only working on a contractual basis. The documents with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs provide that Twitter Inc. has a 99 percent majority holding in Twitter India. NCPR argued that this is not a contractual arrangement and accused Twitter of giving false information and violating the 2012 Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).

The Delhi Police’s first information report (FIR) charges Twitter under Sections 15 and 19 of POCSO which punish storage of child pornographic material and failure to report content that is sexually exploitative of children to the local authorities, respectively. Twitter could also face additional charges under the 1860 Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act of 2000.

Notably, the social media giant’s safe harbor protection for the content shared on its platform remains in limbo after its repeated non-compliance with the central government’s new IT Rules of 2021. If a court rules against Twitter’s intermediary status, the entity’s liability would stretch beyond the failure of due diligence and cooperation with authorities, to punishment for publishing and storing child pornographic content under Section 67B  of the IT Act.