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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Twitter appoints nodal, grievance officers; says other official in a week

In a letter sent to the IT Ministry on June 6, Twitter said it had appointed a nodal contact person and a resident grievance officer on a contractual basis and was working to recruit people in these positions on a permanent basis.

Written by Aashish Aryan | New Delhi |
Updated: June 10, 2021 7:24:22 am
TwitterIn its final notice, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) had said that Twitter's refusal to comply with the rules demonstrated the micro-blogging site's "lack of commitment and efforts towards providing a safe experience for the people of India on its platform".

In a move that signals a potential easing of the standoff between the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Twitter, the microblogging platform has appointed a nodal contact person in India and formally conveyed it to the Ministry.

The ministry has, however, flagged that the contractual appointments made to the position by Twitter, as with some of the other social media intermediates, as “not being fully compliant” with the Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code, sources in the know of the development said.

In a letter sent to the IT ministry on June 6, Twitter said that it had appointed a nodal contact person and a resident grievance officer on a contractual basis and was working to recruit people in these positions on a permanent basis.

“In addition, we are in advanced stages of finalising the appointment to the role of Chief Compliance Officer and we plan to provide additional details to you in the next several days, and at latest within a week,” Twitter said in its letter to the IT ministry. The Indian Express has seen a copy of the letter.

With the appointment, Twitter became the latest significant social media intermediary to make appointments to the key positions of resident grievance officer, a chief compliance officer, and nodal contact person. Apart from the micro-blogging site, Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, LinkedIn and few other significant social media intermediaries have also made appointments to these positions.

“There is either 100 per cent compliance or zero compliance with laws and rules. It can not be midway. Some of them appointed people who are not Indian citizens. Others have made appointments which are interim in nature and these executives are not on payroll employees. We are of the view that they must follow the compliance norms fully and make appointments of people who are Indian residents as well as on the payroll of the company,” a senior government official said on the appointments.

In high-level meeting held within the ministry on Tuesday, the issue was discussed and flagged for raising it beyond the ministry for “appropriate” guidance on the future course of action.

Guidelines issued in February required all significant social media intermediaries to designate executives for these roles by May 26. Social media companies that have more than 50 lakh users in India are designated ‘significant’ social media intermediaries.

On May 26, the ministry had written to these intermediaries asking them to furnish the details of all the appointments made as soon as possible. In a letter, the group coordinator for cyber-law under the Ministry has asked all significant social media intermediaries to furnish these details along with their physical contact address in India and a status report on compliance of these norms.

In its letter, the ministry had then also said that if a social media intermediary claimed to be not significant, it must provide reasons for the same, along with “registered users on each of the services” provided by the platform

Among the major intermediaries, Facebook, Google, WhatsApp and Twitter had said they would comply with the norms and make appointments to these positions. Over the next week, WhatsApp announced the appointment of Paresh B Lal as the resident grievance officer, while Facebook said it had appointed Spoorthi Priya as grievance officer for India.

Google has on its website announced the name of Joe Grier as the grievance officer for India, while Twitter has listed Dharmendra Chatur as the interim grievance officer for the time being.

Some officials in the IT ministry, however, also believe that with these appointments done, significant social media intermediaries have largely complied with the norms for appointment to these positions.

“The intent of the guideline was that the company remains accountable to Indian laws and Indian citizens should have a forum to raise complains. Things become easier with even the temporary appointment of executives in these roles since now the government as well as the common man knows at least who to approach. This is a start,” an official said.

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