The Indian government on Thursday issued a strongly worded statement against Twitter asking the company to stop beating around the bush and comply with the new IT rules in the country.
The Ministry of Information and Technology (MeitY) in a press release said that it “strongly controverts” the claims made by Twitter in its press release today. “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, Twitter refuses to comply with those very regulations in the Intermediary Guidelines on the basis of which it is claiming a safe harbour protection from any criminal liability in India,” MeitY wrote in its release.
The government, in its statement also questioned the microblogging platform’s commitment towards its Indian users. “The larger question is, if Twitter is so committed then why it did not set up such a mechanism in India on its own…The purported commitment of Twitter, to its Indian user base, thus not only sounds hollow but completely self-serving,” it added.
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The government also pointed out that despite having a large user base in India and earning significant revenue, Twitter is reluctant to set up an India-based grievance redress mechanism that would protect its users when they are subjected to offensive tweets. These rules, MeitY said, empower ordinary users who become victims of defamation, sexual abuse, and morphed images to seek redress.
“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,” Meity added.
The government also assured the company that its representatives will always be safe in the country.
It is worth noting that MeitY’s statement follows a statement by a Twitter spokesperson wherein he shared concerns about the safety of Twitter 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,” Twitter had said.