Twitter to HC: Will appoint grievance officer in 8 weeks; have right to challenge IT Rules

New Delhi: Twitter has informed the Delhi High Court that it will take eight weeks to appoint resident grievance officer (RGO) in compliance with the new IT Rules, and it is in a process of setting up a liaison office in India, which will be its permanent physical contact address. However, Twitter said it reserves the right to challenge the new IT Rules.

The response from Twitter has come after the Delhi High Court on Tuesday pulled up the micro-blogging site for failing to appoint resident grievance officer (RGO), saying, “How long will your process take place? This cannot be allowed”, and gave free pass to the Central government to act against the social media firm.

A bench of Justice Rekha Palli had told Twitter’s counsel, “Come up with a clear response, otherwise you will be in trouble”, and sought information on Twitter’s compliance with other provisions of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (IT Rules, 2021) by the next date of hearing. The bench posted the matter for further hearing on July 8.

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On the aspect of appointment of RGO under rule 4(1)(c), Twitter said it is in the process of making an offer of appointment to a resident of India as its “interim RGO” and expects to do so on or before July 11, 2021.

“Twitter has posted publicly a job announcement for an RGO as a direct employee and is accepting applications at this time. Twitter will endeavour in good faith to make an offer of employment to a qualified individual to fill this position within 8 weeks”, said the document filed by Twitter.

The micro-blogging site said it will file its first compliance report covering the period May 26 to June 25, no later than on July 11, consistent with the IT Rules.

Twitter said, though it is striving to comply with the 2021 Rules, but it “reserves its right to challenge the legality, validity, and vires of the Rules, and Twitter’s submissions regarding compliance are filed without prejudice to its right to challenge the rules”.

Twitter said it has appointed a resident of India as its interim chief compliance officer (interim CCO) effective from July 6 and it has engaged the services of the interim CCO as a contingent worker via a third-party contractor.

“Twitter has also addressed a communication to MeitY..Twitter has posted publicly a job announcement for a Chief Compliance Officer,” added the document.

On May 31, the Delhi High Court had issued a notice to the microblogging platform on a plea by advocate Amit Acharya.

The plea had urged the high court to issue directions to the Centre to pass necessary instructions to Twitter India and Twitter Inc to appoint a resident grievance officer under Rule 4 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 without any delay.

The plea had contended that in a nutshell, every significant social media intermediary has the responsibility of appointing not only a resident grievance officer who will act as a single-point authority for receiving and disposing of complaints within a fixed time, but someone should also receive and acknowledge any order, notice and direction issued by the competent authorities.

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