Twitter has not designated nodal contact person, Centre tells Parliament

New Delhi: Twitter appointed a Chief Compliance Officer and a resident grievance officer as a contingent arrangement, but has not designated a nodal contact person, Parliament was informed on Thursday.

On May 26, 2021 (when new rules for social media were enforced), Twitter was non-compliant as it failed to appoint a chief compliance officer, a nodal contact person, and a resident grievance officer as mandated in the norms, Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar said in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.

“Subsequently, they appointed a Chief Compliance Officer and a resident grievance officer as a contingent arrangement. Twitter has also not designated a nodal contact person and the matter is sub-judice,” he added.

Social media platforms like Twitter are intermediaries as defined in the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000.

In order to ensure accountability of social media platforms to users and enhanced user safety, the government has notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, which came into effect on May 26, 2021, the minister said.

He added that in case of non-compliance, the intermediaries are liable to lose their exemption under Section 79 of the IT Act, 2000.

Section 79 of the IT Act, 2000 protects social media intermediaries from legal action for any third party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted by them.

“Police” and “Public Order” are state subjects, and complaints reported against Twitter are dealt with by the respective law enforcement authorities of states and Union territories, Rajeev Chandrasekhar said.

“MeitY is not involved in the filing of any FIR against Twitter,” he added.

Responding to a question on phishing attacks, Chandrasekhar said activities of fraudulent e-mails, SMSs, phishing websites, and campaigns through WhatsApp – pretending to be from legitimate services – lure users to divulge credentials to conduct financial frauds.

“As per the information reported to and tracked by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), a total of 454, 472, 280, and 138 phishing incidents were observed during the years 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 (up to June) respectively,” he added.

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