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Twitter India’s interim grievance redressal officer quits, website shows US national back at the helm

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This recent development comes at a time when the social media platform finds itself tussling with the Indian government, Delhi Police, and Uttar Pradesh Police on three different fronts. 

Weeks after the Indian government flagged the appointment of Dharmendra Chatur as Twitter’s interim grievance redressal officer (GRO) citing non-compliance to the Information Technology Rules 2021, the official quit his position, a Press Trust of India report said and Twitter’s website indicated.

The appointment of an interim GRO was announced on May 31 by Twitter when it was taken to the Delhi High Court by advocate Amit Acharya who in a petition had claimed that the social media platform was in non-compliance with the IT Rules 2021 which had come into effect on May 26. Acharya, in his petition, had said that Twitter’s Grievance Redressal Officer was one Jermey Kessel based in the United States and that this was in violation of the IT Rules 2021 which states that a GRO must be based in India.

Subsequently, Twitter updated its Grievance Officer – India page with details of Dharmendra Chatur as the interim GRO and the address of Poovayya and Co’s Bengaluru office as Twitter India’s correspondence address. This did not go unnoticed as a week later, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in their ‘one last notice’ to Twitter urging compliance to the rules, pointed out that the then-GRO (Chatur) and Nodal Contact Person nominated by Twitter Inc was not an employee of the platform and the office address of Twitter India was that of a law firm.

Interestingly, Twitter’s Grievance Officer – India page, now shows that the social media company has re-appointed San Franciso-based Jeremy Kessel as the GRO in India. This is still not in compliance with the IT Rules 2021 (and was the main contention in Acharya’s petition against the social media company before the Delhi High Court). When reached out to Twitter regarding the appointment of a new GRO, the social media platform declined to comment.

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Twitter’s long tussle with Indian government

Twitter has been embroiled in a battle on two fronts — with the Delhi Police and the Indian government. On May 26, when the new Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 came into force, it was speculated that significant social media intermediaries (SSMIs) who do not comply with the rules will be banned in India. Twitter had raised concerns regarding the appointment of a chief compliance officer, and the demand for proactive monitoring as prescribed under the new rules.

On the other hand, Delhi police served a notice and visited two offices of Twitter in connection with an alleged Indian National Congress-created toolkit. Twitter had labelled tweets of BJP politicians including spokesperson Sambit Patra and others on the alleged toolkit prepared by Congress as “manipulated media”.

The tweets alleged that Congress had created this toolkit to defame the Prime Minister and ‘undermine’ the government’s Covid-19 vaccination policy. Soon after, Delhi Police sent a notice to Twitter seeking clarification on the usage of the term “manipulated media” since the matter was under investigation.

A few days ago, the Karnataka High Court passed an interim order restraining the Uttar Pradesh Police from initiating any coercive action against Twitter Communications India Private Ltd’s Manish Maheshwari. The HC was hearing a petition filed by Maheshwari in response to Ghaziabad Police’s two notices to him asking him to appear before the police in relation to tweets over the Ghaziabad assault case made on the platform.

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Among other subjects, I cover the increasing usage of emerging technologies, especially for surveillance in India

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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