Government bashes Twitter, tells it is time to ‘comply with the laws of India’

NEW DELHI: The Indian government has given a strong worded response to statements made by the social media platform Twitter alleging intimidation tactics by Delhi Police. In a statement, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeiTY) termed the statements made by Twitter as totally baseless and an attempt to defame the country.
“The government condemns the unfortunate statement issued by Twitter as totally baseless, false and an attempt to defame India to hide their own follies,” said MeiTY in a statement.
After the recent visit by Delhi Police Special Cell to the offices of Twitter India in the Delhi-NCR region, the company said that they are concerned about the safety of its employees in India. “We, alongside many in civil society in India and around the world, have concerns with regards to the use of intimidation tactics by the police in response to enforcement of our global Terms of Service,” said an official spokesperson of Twitter.
Replying to this, the ministry in its statement said, “The government wishes to emphatically assure that representatives of social media companies including Twitter are and will always remain safe in India and there is no threat to their personal safety and security.”

Twitter is just a social media platform and it can’t dictate terms to India
The government said that it is not Twitter’s responsibility to protect free speech in India.
“Protecting free speech in India is not the prerogative of only a private, for-profit, foreign entity like Twitter, but it is the commitment of the world’s largest democracy and its robust institutions. Twitter’s statement is 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,” said the government.
The government in February 2021 officially revealed that Twitter has 1.75 crore users in India making it a “Significant Social Media Intermediary” as per the new Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code 2021. Any social media platform that has over 50 lakh registered users is considered a “Significant Social Media Intermediary”

The ministry also said that despite being a significant social media company in India, “Twitter representatives in India routinely claim that they have no authority and that they and the people of India need to escalate everything to the Twitter Headquarter in the USA.”
“Twitter has a large user base in India, it earns significant revenue from its Indian operations but is also the most reluctant to appoint an India-based grievance redressal officer and mechanism, chief compliance officer and nodal officer to whom its own users can complain, when they are subjected to offensive Tweets. The purported commitment of Twitter, to its Indian user base, thus not only sounds hollow but completely self-serving,” it added.
The government questioned Twitter’s commitment to Indian users by highlighting the following:
  • Twitter chose to show the geo-location of certain locations in the Union Territory of Ladakh as part of the People's Republic of China at a time when India and China were engaged in peaceful resolution of border related issues through bilateral dialogue. Twitter took several days, that too only after repeated reminders, to rectify this blatant disrespect to India’s sensitivity and territorial integrity.
  • Twitter chose to take suo-moto action against those users who it considered as perpetrators of violence at the Capitol Hill in the USA. But, just a few days after the unlawful incidents on Red Fort in Delhi, Twitter refused to take prompt action on the lawful request made by the Government of India to block contents that sought to incite violence on the pretext of a fake genocide plan. Later, it chose to comply, that too partially, when the damage had been done.
  • Twitter’s lack of responsibility has led to rampant proliferation of fake and harmful content against India and Indians. Promoting vaccine hesitancy has been rampantly done through the use of Twitter platform and yet Twitter has taken no action.
  • Discriminatory behavior has been practiced against Indians and people of Indian origin because of malicious tagging of B.1.617 mutant as ‘Indian variant’ name despite strict WHO guidelines against it. Again, Twitter has taken no action against such fake narratives and Tweets while claiming to serve the people of India.

The government told Twitter that it needs to stop beating around the bush and comply with the laws of the land. “Law making 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,” said the IT ministry in its statement.

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