After Twitter raised concerns about “potential threat to freedom of expression” over the new IT rules, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has asked the microblogging company to “stop beating around the bush” and “comply with the laws of the land”.
In a statement on Thursday, MeitY asserted that India had a “glorious tradition of free speech and democratic practices” and Twitter’s statements were an ‘attempt to dictate its terms to the world’s largest democracy.
“Through its actions and deliberate defiance, Twitter seeks to undermine India’s legal system. Furthermore, Twitter refuses to comply with those very regulations in the Intermediary Guidelines on the basis of which it is claiming safe harbour protection from any criminal liability in India,” MeitY said. Earlier on Thursday, Twitter had said that it was concerned by recent events regarding their employees in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression.
.@GoI_MeitY issues press statement in response to the statement made by twitter.
— PIB_India MeitY (@MeityPib) May 27, 2021
“Concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and potential threat to freedom of expression for people we serve. We have concerns with regards to intimidation police’s tactics in response to enforcement of global Terms of Service and core elements of the new IT Rules,” a Twitter spokesperson said. The IT Ministry said that Twitter’s purported commitment to its Indian user base sounded “hollow but completely self-serving”.
Twitter has a large user base in India and earns significant revenue but is also the most reluctant to appoint an India-based grievance redressal mechanism, MeitY said, stating that the Centre’s rules empower ordinary users who become victims of abuse on the platform to seek redress. The Ministry further said that the rules were finalized after the widest possible consultations and the draft was put in the public domain and invited public comments.
The Government of India respects the right of people to ask questions, criticize and privacy, it added, and said the ‘only instance of scuttling free speech on Twitter is Twitter itself and its opaque policies, as a result of which people’s accounts are suspended and tweets deleted arbitrarily without recourse.’ “Twitter needs to stop beating around the bush and comply with the laws of the land. Lawmaking and policy formulations is the sole prerogative of the sovereign and Twitter is just a social media platform and it has no locus in dictating what India’s legal policy framework should be,” it said.
Regarding concerns raised about the representatives of the company in the country, MeitY assured that their representatives and will always remain safe in India and there is no threat to their personal safety and security. Earlier on Monday, the Delhi Police visited the Twitter India offices after it issued notice to Twitter seeking an explanation on what grounds it tagged BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra’s tweet on the alleged Congress toolkit designed to target the Central government as ‘manipulated media’.
The Delhi Police Special Cell asked Twitter to explain the rationale and share all the information on how it described the toolkit as manipulated media. (ANI)