In photo: Twitter CEO Jack Patrick Dorsey and Union Minister for Ministry of Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Stop beating around the bush and comply with Indian laws: Govt tells Twitter

THE Indian Government Thursday hit back at Twitter saying through its actions and deliberate defiance, Twitter sought to undermine India’s legal system and the only instance of scuttling free speech on Twitter was on account of Twitter and its opaque policies, as a result of which people’s accounts were being suspended and tweets deleted arbitrarily without recourse.

Twitter needs to stop beating around the bush and comply with Indian laws, the government said.

“India has a glorious tradition of free speech and democratic practices dating back centuries. 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”, the union government said in response to Twitter’s statement that it was concerned with the “recent events” regarding its employees in the country and “the potential threat to freedom of expression” for its users.

“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, as well as with core elements of the new IT Rules. We plan to advocate for changes to elements of these regulations that inhibit free, open public conversation,” a Twitter spokesperson said.

Also Read: Centre says right to privacy not absolute; terms WhatsApp’s plea challenging IT Rules “unfortunate attempt”

Twitter’s statement came days after the Delhi police landed at their offices in Delhi and Gurugram allegedly to serve notice asking the company’s executives to join a probe regarding the alleged Congress “toolkit” that sought to undermine the Indian government’s response to Covid-19.

Besides, Twitter is facing the government’s ire after the former marked posts by BJP leaders on the alleged “Congress toolkit” as “manipulated media”. The government last week asked Twitter to remove the tag.

Additionally, the IT rules which came into force yesterday require social media platforms to appoint a compliance officer in India, set up a grievance response mechanism etc. WhatsApp has already sued the government, saying the rules are unconstitutional and against user privacy. The Centre yesterday also issued a statement calling WhatsApp’s last-minute challenge to the IT rules an “unfortunate attempt”.