New Delhi, May 28 (ILNS): A petition has been filed before the Delhi High Court against the non-compliance of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 by Twitter and seeking an appropriate instruction against Union of India and Twitter to perform its statutory and executive duty under IT rules.
The Petition has been filed Amit Acharya through advocates Akash Vajpai and Manish Kumar.
According to Rule 4(c) of the IT Rule, every Significant Social Media Intermediary has to appoint a Resident Grievance Officer, who shall, subject to clause (b), be responsible for the functions referred to in sub-rule (2) of rule 3 While sub-rule (2) of rule 3 prescribes Grievance redressal mechanism of intermediary in the following words:
(a)The intermediary shall prominently publish on its website, mobile based application or both, as the case may be, the name of the Grievance Officer and his contact details as well as mechanism by which a user or a victim may make complaint against violation of the provisions of this rule or any other matters pertaining to the computer resources made available by it, and the Grievance Officer shall –
(i) acknowledge the complaint within twenty four hours and dispose of such complaint within a period of fifteen days from the date of its receipt;
(ii) receive and acknowledge any order, notice or direction issued by the Appropriate Government, any competent authority or a court of competent jurisdiction.
(b) The intermediary shall, within twenty-four hours from the receipt of a complaint made by an individual or any person on his behalf under this sub-rule, in relation to any content which is prima facie in the nature of any material which exposes the private area of such individual, shows such individual in full or partial nudity or shows or depicts such individual in any sexual act or conduct, or is in the nature of impersonation in an electronic form, including artificially morphed images of such individual, take all reasonable and practicable measures to remove or disable access to such content which is hosted, stored, published or transmitted by it:
(c) The intermediary shall implement a mechanism for the receipt of complaints under clause (b) of this sub-rule which may enable the individual or person to provide details, as may be necessary, in relation to such content or communication link.
Rule 4 of the IT Rules, 2021 put Additional due diligence on significant social media intermediary (who have more than 50 lakhs users or subscribers in India). It says that:
(1) In addition to the due diligence observed under rule 3, a significant social media intermediary shall, within three months from the date of notification of the threshold under clause (v) of subrule (1) of rule 2, observe the following additional due diligence while discharging its duties, namely:—(c) appoint a Resident Grievance Officer, who shall, subject to clause
(b), be responsible for the functions referred to in sub-rule (2) of rule 3.
Explanation.— For the purpose of this clause “Residential Grievance officer” means the employee of a significant social media intermediary , who is resident in India;Additionally sub-rule (6) of rule 4 states that:
(6) The significant social media intermediary shall implement an appropriate mechanism for the receipt of complaints under sub-rule (2) of rule 3 and grievances in relation to the violation of provisions under this rule, which shall enable the complainant to track the status of such complaint or grievance by providing a unique ticket number for every complaint or grievance received by such intermediary:
Provided that such intermediary shall, to the extent reasonable, provide such complainant with reasons for any action taken or not taken by such intermediary in pursuance of the complaint or grievance received by it.
The Petition said that every significant social media intermediary has responsibility not only to appoint a Resident Grievance Officer (employee of SSMI who should be resident in India) who will act as single point authority for receiving and disposing off complaints within fixed time but will also receive and acknowledge any order, notice and direction issued by the appropriate government/competent authority or Court of competent jurisdiction.
Every SSMI (significant social media intermediary) will also develop a mechanism for receipt of complaint in relation to violation of any provision under the IT rule and will provide ticket number through which every complainant would be able to track status of his/her complaint .Moreover it is responsibility of SEM to provide reason for any action taken or not taken while disposing off such complaints , the Petition states.
It is mentioned that Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 has come into force from 25.02.2021 and Union of India had given 3 months to every SSMI to comply with these Rules and these three months period got over on 25.05.2021 but Twitter Communication India Private Limited and Twitter Inc has separately & jointly failed to appoint any Resident Grievance Officer to redress the complaints of its users with regard to the violation of the provisions of the aforesaid Rules.
The Petitioner alleged that Twitter Communication India Private Limited and Twitter Inc not only failed to appoint Resident Grievance Officer but has also not appointed Nodal officer and Chief Compliance Officer mention under Rules 4 of the IT Rules, 2021.
“Petitioner who is also a subscriber and user of Twitter when scrolling his Twitter on 26.05.2021, found some of the tweets of two individual very defamatory, false and untrue but when he tried to look for Resident Grievance Officer so that he can register his complaint against the alleged defamatory and untrue tweets, he found no details of the Resident Grievance Officer on the page of Twitter, which is a clearviolation of subrule 2(a) of Rule 3 which says that The intermediary shall prominently publish on its website, mobile based application or both, as the case may be, the name of the Grievance Officer and his contact details. Hence, this Writ Petition as Petitioner has been deprived by his statutory right to lodge complaint before the Resident Grievance Officer under Rule 4 read with Rule 3 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 regarding the violation of the provisions of the IT Rules, the Petition reads. ILNS\SS\SJ