Twitter defaming India, defying laws, says government:
With microblogging platform Twitter on Thursday expressing concerns over “intimidation tactics” by Delhi Police and “potential threat to freedom of expression” in India, the government came back with a reply, calling the statement baseless, false and an attempt to defame India to hide their own frivolousness.
The U.S.-headquartered firm expressed disquiet over “recent events regarding its employees in India” and said it plans to bring changes in core elements of the new IT Rules that inhibit free and open public conversation. It, however, had added that it will strive to adapt with the revised IT laws in India, but sought a minimum of three-month extension of compliance window.
In response, the Ministry of Electronics and IT said, “The Government strongly controverts the claims made by Twitter... India has a glorious tradition of free speech and democratic practices dating back from 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 powerful institutions.”
The Ministry added that the allegation of use of “intimidation tactics” by the police are “completely groundless”.
The Ministry said that through its actions and deliberate defiance, Twitter have to follow India’s legal system.
“Twitter needs to stop beating around the bush and adapt itself with the laws of the land. Law making and policy formulations is the sole prerogative of the sovereign authority and Twitter is just a social media platform and it has no stand in dictating what India’s legal policy framework should be,” MeitY said.
According to Twitter, with regards to the new IT rules, it is particularly thinking about the requirement to make an individual (the compliance officer) criminally liable for content on the platform, the requirements for proactive monitoring, and the blanket authority to seek information about its customers. It believes this represents dangerous overreach that is contrary with open, democratic principles.
The company also pointed out that it was coerced to withhold some content, constituting legitimate free speech, in response to a non-compliance notice due to the law’s limited scope under Section 69A. Not doing so poses penal consequences with many risks for Twitter employees.