The Indian government has warned micro-blogging site Twitter that it can hold the company’s top executives accountable, if the company fails to remove objectionable and inflammatory content, along with accounts carrying it.
The government said the company’s top executives can face up to seven years in jail and financial penalties if they fail to abide by this ruling.
Twitter has been asked to comply with the provisions under the Indian IT Act or else it would face action under Section 69A of the IT Act which gives the government power to seek the blocking of content or accounts that carry information seen as detrimental to the sovereignty and integrity of the country and creates public disorders.
“The home secretary asked Ms Gadde and Ms Kaul to ensure a 24×7 mechanism for prompt disposal of requisitions of law enforcement agencies for deletion or removal of unlawful or objectionable content from their platform,” a ministry official disclosed.
The warning from the IT ministry comes just as the micro-blogging site faced the heat from a parliamentary standing committee over perceived biases in blocking accounts ahead of elections. As India is heading towards the national elections, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been asked to not undermine or influence the political process.
In fact earlier this week, Twitter went live with its ‘Ads Transparency Centre’ for India, that would allow people to view details of political advertisements in the country, including advertiser spends and impressions data.
A parliamentary panel last month asked micro-blogging site Twitter to engage more with the Election Commission of India (ECI) ahead of general elections and address issues on a “real-time” basis.The Twitter officials were told that there should not be any “international interference” in the Lok Sabha polls.
The issue has also been flagged by IT and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who has warned of strict action against any internet company whose platform is misused for spreading fake news and other kinds of misinformation.
The issue had assumed significance after the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data leak and political meddling episode came to the fore, while fake and viral messages on WhatsApp were blamed for a series of lynching incidents across the country.