INDIA: Indian Government strongly controverts the claims made by Twitter through a press release saying that it would stand its ground and had no plans as of now of complying with the IT rules that came into play on May 26. Twitter has further tried to clarify its stance regarding the new IT rules and also its reaction to the recent visit of the Delhi police team to its office.
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. Furthermore, it 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.
The larger question is if Twitter is so committed then why it did not set up such a mechanism in India on its own? Its representatives in India routinely claim that they have no authority and that they and the people of India need to escalate everything to its headquarters in the USA. The purported commitment of this social media, to its Indian user base, thus not only sounds hollow but completely self-serving.
Twitter and India
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 Rules empower the ordinary users who become victims of defamation, morphed images, sexual abuse, and the whole range of other abusive content in blatant violation of law, to seek redress.
These Rules were finalised after the widest possible consultations including with representatives of social media platforms, individuals, civil society, industry associations, and organisations. There are also various concerns raised by various courts including the Supreme Court of India directing the Government to take appropriate steps, and also various Parliamentary debates and recommendations to take appropriate measures.
Freedom of Speech and Expression is a Fundamental Right under the Indian Constitution. The Government of India respects the right of people to ask questions and also criticise these social media platforms including Twitter. The Government equally respects the right to privacy. However, 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. Law-making and policy formulations are the sole prerogatives 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.
Twitter‘s anti – India attitude
Twitter has claimed that it is committed to the people of India. Ironically, this commitment of Twitter has been mostly invisible in recent times. It is pertinent to share some recent examples:
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 a 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 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 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 the rampant proliferation of fake and harmful content against India and Indians. Promoting vaccine hesitancy has been rampantly done through the use of the Twitter platform and yet Twitter has taken no action. Is this commitment to the people of India?
Discriminatory behaviour 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 grandiosely claiming to serve the people of India.
Twitter Inc., a USA-based private company says that it seeks “constructive dialogue”, and a “collaborative approach” from the government of a sovereign democratic republic to “safeguard interests of the public”. It is time that Twitter disabuses itself of this grandiosity and comply with the laws of India.
Indian government’s response
The Government also 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.
Government condemns the unfortunate statement issued by Twitter as totally baseless, false, and an attempt to defame India to hide its own follies.
The Delhi Police has also issued a detailed press release, pertaining to an ongoing investigation, which answers the completely baseless allegations raised by Twitter.