Twitter on Tuesday said it had appointed an interim Chief Compliance Officer, and the details of the office will be shared directly with the IT Ministry soon. The move came after the government had given Twitter the last chance to comply with the new IT rules. The microblogging platform had not made immediate appointments of key personnel, mandated under the new guidelines that came into effect on 26 May.
Following this, the US-based company had assured the Indian government last week that it is in the advanced stages of finalizing the appointment of a chief compliance officer and submitting additional details within a week. On Tuesday, a Twitter spokesperson said the company continues to make every effort to comply with the new guidelines and is keeping the IT Ministry apprised of progress at every step of the process. An interim Chief Compliance Officer has been retained, and details will be shared with the Ministry directly soon, the spokesperson added.
Twitter had had several faceoffs with the Indian government over the past months, including during the farmers” protest and later when it tagged political posts of several leaders of the ruling party BJP as “manipulated media,” triggering a sharp rebuke from the Centre. The last flashpoint was the delay in complying with the IT rules that mandate large digital platforms to undertake greater due diligence and appoint a grievance officer, a nodal officer, and a chief compliance officer. This personnel have to be residents in India.
Twitter has an estimated 1.75 crore users in India, as per data cited by the government recently. The micro-blogging platform has stated that India is an important market for the company and is among the countries in which it is piloting a new approach of building an in-market team to “locally tailor” its global product to the needs of the region. In its notice on 5 June, the IT Ministry had confronted Twitter for not providing information about the Chief Compliance Officer as required under the Rules. Also, the resident grievance officer and the nodal contact person nominated by the company is not an employee of Twitter Inc in India as prescribed in the rules, the ministry had said.
Further, the government contended that the office address in India mentioned by Twitter is that of a law firm, which is also not per the rules. The Ministry had warned Twitter that such non-compliance would lead to “unintended consequences”, including Twitter losing exemption from liability as an intermediary under the IT Act.
In its response on 7 June, Twitter had sought to assure the government that it is making every effort to comply with the new guidelines, including concerning hiring personnel in India. “For example, similar to other significant social media intermediaries operating in India, to comply with the underlying intention behind the guidelines, we have appointed a nodal contact person and resident grievance officer on a contractual basis while we recruit to fill the positions permanently,” Twitter had said in its letter to the Ministry last week. It went on to say that “…We are in the advanced stages of finalising the appointment to the role of a chief compliance officer, and we plan to provide additional details to you in the next several days, and at the latest within a week.”
The Twitter website shows openings for Chief Compliance Officer, Nodal Officer, and Resident Grievance Officer. As per the job descriptions for the three positions, these are full-time roles located in India, and the candidates must be residents of India.
The grievance officer will be responsible for overseeing the grievance redressal mechanism of complaints from the people who use Twitter services in India. The Nodal Officer will be responsible for coordination with the law enforcement and government agencies in India to oversee the process of responding to reports, orders, and complaints. The executive will be the primary link for coordination between Twitter and these agencies on all legal requests relating to Twitter’s platform, including requests for content removal and user data disclosure.