The Indian government has once again accused the microblogging platform Twitter of trying to dictate its terms to the world’s largest democracy. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said Twitter needs to stop beating around the bush and comply with laws of the land.
“Law making and policy formulations is sole prerogative of the sovereign and Twitter is just a social media platform and it has no locus in dictating what should India’s legal policy should be,” it said.
Twitter on Thursday had called the visit by Delhi Police to its offices a form of “intimidation” and said it was concerned about its employees and the potential threat to freedom of expression. The platform had marked several tweets by ruling BJP leaders on alleged strategy document of opposition to target the government over COVID as containing “manipulated media”, which prompted the police to visit its offices late on Monday.
Twitter, in an official statement after the police visit, said it will continue to be strictly guided by principles of transparency and protecting freedom of expression. The company said it will strive to comply with applicable law in India to keep its services available in the country but will advocate for changes to elements of these regulations that inhibit free, open public conversation. “Right now, we are concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and the potential threat of freedom of expression for the people we serve,” it said.
The platform added that alongside many in civil society in India and around the world, the company has concerns with regards to the use of intimidation tactics by the police in response to enforcement of their global Terms of Service, as well as with core elements of the new IT rules.
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It reiterated its commitment to India as a vital market, but criticized the new IT rules and regulations that is said inhibit free, open public conversation. According to the new rules, social network platforms including Facebook and WhatsApp have been asked to identify within 36 hours the origin of a flagged message as well as conduct additional due diligence, including the appointment of a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and resident grievance officer.