By Justice Markandey Katju
Twitter has been deprived by the Indian Govt of the ‘safe harbour’ in section 79(1) of the Information Technology Act, which means it will now have to face criminal and civil liability. But what wrong did it do?
Twitter is only a platform, like other intermediaries such as Facebook, Google, Whatsapp, Youtube, etc, These intermediaries do not create or originate news or ideas. It is some third party which creates them. Twitter and other intermediaries only enables these third parties to place them on their platforms. If anyone thinks the news or ideas incorrect, he/she can refute them by placing their own views on Twitter etc. This will initiate a debate, and debate is healthy in a democracy.
Moreover, intermediaries, including Twitter, have mechanisms to filter out messages which may encourage hate, violence, terrorism, drug and women’s abuse, paedophilism, and other harmful contents. So it is not that automatically everything will be posted on the platform.
These intermediaries, including Twitter, are performing a useful function by enabling people to share news and views. Every morning I see Twitter to know what is going on in the world.
As regards the objection that Twitter had not set up the Grievance Redressal Mechanisms as required by the Information Technology Rules, 2021, surely this was a matter which could have been sorted out by the Govt officials and Twitter representatives. Twitter did set up a mechanism, but maybe it was not strictly as required. For this some more time could have been given to Twitter. It has said it will comply with the new rules, but needs more time
I would request the Govt to reconsider its decision and restore the safe harbour to Twitter, and withdraw its FIR.