Weeks after Twitter appointed interim grievance redressal officer Dharmendra Chatur in India, the micro-blogging platform is back to square one as Chatur has quit the company, leaving Twitter in the lurch, local news agency Press Trust of India said, quoting sources.
Chatur’s appointment in early June came days after the Indian government expressed displeasure over Twitter not complying with the new IT rules brought into force last month.
The new rules by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) have made it mandatory for social media companies to appoint three employees to liaison with the government authorities—a grievance redressal officer, nodal officer, and compliance officer.
Twitter’s actions indicate that they are not the harbinger of free speech that they claim to be but are only interested in running their own agenda, with the threat that if you do not tow the line they draw, they will arbitrarily remove you from their platform.
— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) June 25, 2021
In the meantime, Twitter has appointed its global legal policy director Jeremy Kessel to double as India’s grievance officer. However, it is unlikely that the Indian government will consider this a legitimate replacement, as the new IT rules state that the officers should be based in the country and available round the clock to address government concerns, including post takedowns within 72 hours of the request. Questions sent to Manish Maheshwari, Twitter India’s managing director, didn’t elicit any response.
The development comes at a time when the relationship between the government and Twitter is shaky, to say the least. Last week, Twitter locked India’s IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s account for a few hours for allegedly violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
“We can confirm that the Honorable Minister’s account access was temporarily restricted solely due to a DMCA notice, and the referenced Tweet has been withheld. Per our copyright policy, we respond to valid copyright complaints sent to us by the copyright owner or their authorized representatives,” a Twitter India spokesperson said in a statement.
The minister in a tweet said Twitter is only concerned with pushing forward its own agenda and is “not the harbinger of free speech that it claims to be.”