CloudNews & Analysis

Twitter Worries Over Penalty Clause in India’s IT Laws


Twitter has expressed serious concerns over the possibility of India imposing a fine on the company for failing to remove certain content from its platform in accordance with the country’s new IT guidelines.

In Twitter’s 10-K filing with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), the company reportedly said that internet connectivity and use of feature phones is also making it difficult to monetize its platform. “We are subject to legislation in Germany that may impose significant fines for failure to comply with certain content removal and disclosure obligations.

Other countries, including Brazil, Turkey, Singapore, India, Australia, and the United Kingdom, have implemented or are considering similar legislation imposing penalties for failure to remove certain types of content,” Twitter wrote in its SEC filing last week.

Notably, Twitter is not the first tech company to raise concerns over India’s new IT rules. Google parent Alphabet and Facebook’s parent Meta in their 10-K filings with the SEC raised similar concerns.

In its annual filings earlier this year Meta has said, “Some countries, such as India, are considering or have passed legislation implementing data protection requirements or requiring local storage and processing of data or similar requirements that could increase the cost and complexity of delivering our services.”

Alphabet Inc also said in its regulatory filings earlier this month that similar issues were plaguing its operations, without explicitly naming any country.

Besides the new IT rules, Twitter also cited competition from ‘regional websites’ as a cause of concern from the platform. “Increased competition from largely regional websites, mobile applications and services that provide real-time communications and have strong positions in particular countries, which have expanded and may continue to expand their geographic footprint,” it said.

In India Twitter faces competition from Koo that has been downloaded 20 million times so far.

Early this month, Indian officials have held heated discussions with Google, Twitter and Facebook for not proactively removing what they described as fake news on their platforms, sources told Reuters, the government’s latest altercation with Big Tech.

India had warned Twitter that its failure to abide by the new rules would make it lose its safe harbour as a platform, holding it liable for the user-generated content. The company eventually said that it has complied with the provisions of the new rules.

The proposed Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, also has provisions that impose heavy penalties on companies for non-compliance. It has also proposed to term social media companies as publishers, which will make them liable for the content on their platforms.

Meanwhile, Twitter is slowly enhancing its messaging feature by adding more functionality to it. This year, the micro-blogging platform is making more changes to DMs to make it smarter. For example, now users can pin up to six DMs on its platform. “Keep your fave DM convos easily accessible by pinning them! You can now pin up to six conversations that will stay at the top of your DM inbox,” Twitter wrote in a post announcing the news. Earlier, Twitter users could pin only one message on the platform, which in turn would enable all their important conversations to stay on top.

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