Q&A-Tweet Tweet! -Twitter Policies

Q- What data does Twitter collect and what happens with it? 

Twitter collects information from your public profile, your contact information, your communications whether public(tweets, retweets etc) or private(inbox), information about location and usage data. 


Interestingly, even without making an account on Twitter if you access it, Twitter will still store your data called Log data. 


Your data is used to show you the tweets based on your liking. Trends are affected by your data. If a government agency sends a legal request, Twitter will have to share your information with them. 


Twitter also shares your data with third parties, for example, advertisers. This information is shared as anonymous data. 


Q- If I put my work on Twitter, is it protected?

You can copyright your original and creative tweets. Twitter terms of service mentions “You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. What’s yours is yours — you own your Content (and your incorporated audio, photos and videos are considered part of the Content).” 


Having 353 million monthly active users on Twitter, companies use it to spread awareness about their brand. The times are of extreme competitiveness. Brands put a lot of thought and time into setting up their accounts. Now without even tweeting, you can infringe copyright by copying someone’s bio. 


Q- What if my work is infringed? 

In the event of infringement, Twitter suggests first resolving the complaint by directly approaching the infringer. If that does not work, the copyright or trademark holder can fill a form under DMCA and request Twitter to take down the infringing content. But before this, the holder should contact their IP attorney to establish the authorship. 


Q- How can I file a copyright/trademark complaint? 

For that, you have to log into your Twitter account. On the left panel, there is the ‘Help Center’ and after clicking that find ‘Twitter rules and policies’. You will see the copyright and trademark policy. And there you can file a complaint. After reviewing your complaint about validity and accuracy, Twitter will take action. It will also send the full copy of the notice with all the contact information to the user who allegedly infringed your copyright/trademark. 


The battle between Twitter and the Indian Government- 


Q-Who is an Intermediary?

Imagine Person A has sent a parcel to Person B. Delivery guy is stopped by the police and while checking they found *cough*cough* some illegal substance. Only Person A and Person B are responsible for that illegal substance. The delivery company and the delivery person is not going to be held responsible because they are acting as an Intermediary.


In the context of the Internet, any service which provides a platform for communication for example Whatsapp, Facebook or Twitter are the Intermediaries. This means if Person X posts a hateful tweet then twitter will not be held responsible for Person X opinions. 


Q- What is a Safe Harbour? 

Let’s take the same example, Person A sent something Illegal using a Delivery company. When the police catch the delivery guy with illegal substances, the delivery company can take safe harbour. It is that they have already mentioned what things are prohibited for delivery. Even after that if a person sends the illegal substance and gets caught then only the person(s) responsible are the ones using the services of the delivery company. Around the world, Safe Harbour is guaranteed to Intermediaries. 


The exemption from the responsibility is provided under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. It is also mentioned that any intermediary has to comply with the guidelines of the Central Government. The Information Technology rules, 2021, are the new guidelines from the central government. The three-month deadline to comply with these rules was over on May 25, 2021. Twitter failed to comply with the rules and it was/is widely reported that Twitter lost the Intermediary status. 


Q- How can a platform lose an Intermediary status? 

There is no provision related to revoking the status of Intermediary in the Information Technology Act, 2000 and The new IT rules, 2021. As of now, being an intermediary is a technical status. There is no registration process laid down in the entire act to become an Intermediary. So, when someone says Twitter has lost its Intermediary status it is a factually incorrect statement. 


But as mentioned in Section 79(2)(c), if any intermediary fails to comply with the rules observed by the Central Government then the safe harbour provision is not available. 


Q- Is twitter going to be banned in India? 

 The short answer is NO. There is no provision under the Information Technology act, 2000, to ban any intermediary if it fails to comply with the IT rules. 


But, every problematic tweet posted by any person will lead to making twitter part of the case. And with this hostility, it will become tough for Twitter to conduct business and protect its employees. And in the future, Twitter might withdraw its services from India.


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