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Should Twitter lose legal liability shield? Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad speaks out

No foreign entity can be the flagbearer of free speech in India, he tweeted

ravi-shankar-prasad-law-lok-sabha-pti Union Minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad speaks in Rajya Sabha during the ongoing Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Thursday, March 18, 2021 | RSTV/PTI Photo

In a series of tweets, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad addressed the topic of Twitter possibly losing its legal liability shield as an 'intermediary' via IT Rules Section 79. "There are numerous queries arising as to whether Twitter is entitled to safe harbour provision. However, the simple fact of the matter is that Twitter has failed to comply with the intermediary guidelines that came into effect from the May 26," he tweeted. 

He cited an instance in Uttar Pradesh's Ghaziabad over an attack on an elderly Muslim man, who narrated his ordeal on video after he was allegedly attacked by some people. Twitter, some media organisations and journalists were among those charged with an FIR for spreading 'communal tensions'. 

Abdul Shamad Saifi alleged he was thrashed by some young men and asked to chant 'Jai Shri Ram'. However, the Ghaziabad police, who have arrested six persons, including Muslims, have ruled out a communal angle. They said the accused were unhappy about the tabeez (amulet) he had sold to them.

"The culture of India varies like its large geography. In certain scenarios, with the amplification of social media, even a small spark can cause a fire, especially with the menace of fake news. This was one of the objectives of bringing the intermediary guidelines. What happened in UP was illustrative of Twitter’s arbitrariness in fighting fake news. While Twitter has been over-enthusiastic about its fact checking mechanism, its failure to act in multiple cases like UP is perplexing, and indicates its inconsistency in fighting misinformation."

"If any foreign entity believes that they can portray itself as the flagbearer of free speech in India to excuse itself from complying with the law of the land, such attempts are misplaced," he tweeted. 


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