India has rapped Twitter for not complying with the government orders to take down certain accounts and warned the microblogging platform that it must follow local laws to operate in the country.
An official government statement said that Ajay Sawhney, secretary for the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, expressed his deep disappointment to Twitter leadership about the manner in which it was unwillingly, grudgingly and with great delay complied with the substantial parts of the order.
Sawhney, in the virtual meet with Twitter’s vice president for global public policy Monique Meche, and deputy general counsel Jim Baker, reminded the platform that in India, its Constitution and laws are supreme. The statement said it is expected that responsible entities not only reaffirm but remain committed to compliance to the law of the land. The secretary told the platform that it is welcome to do business in India, but it must still follow Indian laws irrespective of the social media company’s own rules and guidelines.
Twitter, in an official blogpost, said it believes transparency is the foundation to promoting healthy public conversation on the platform and to earn trust. “It is critical that people understand our approach to content moderation and how we engage with governments around the world, and that we are transparent about the consequences and the results of this work,” it said. “The values that underpin the Open Internet and free expression are increasingly under threat around the world. Following the reports of violence in New Delhi in recent weeks, we wanted to share a granular update on our proactive efforts to enforce our rules and defend our principles in India.”
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The platform added that Twitter exists to empower voices to be heard and it continues to make improvements to the services so that everyone, no matter their views or perspective, feels safe participating in the public conversation. Last week, the social media site had temporarily blocked some of the accounts at the behest of the Indian government. However, it said it had restored access in a manner that the company believes was consistent with Indian law.
The government had ordered the platform to remove more than 1,100 accounts and posts that it alleged of spreading misinformation about farmers protesting against the new agriculture bills. The statement said that New Delhi considers the hashtag on “farmer genocide” to be incendiary and baseless. It said this was being used to spread misinformation about the protests.