The government of India has come up with a strongly worded rebuttal to Twitter’s misleading and obfuscating statements to media today regarding Indian law and its so-called policies. The govt has stated that “protecting free speech in India” is the responsibility of the Indian government and not the prerogative of a private, for-profit, foreign entity like Twitter.
Calling Twitter’s statement ‘an attempt to dictate its terms to the world’s largest democracy, the Union ministry fo Electronics and IT stated that through its actions and deliberate defiance, Twitter is seeking to undermine India’s legal system. The ministry stated that Twitter is refusing to comply with the very regulations in the intermediary guidelines on the basis of which it is claiming a safe harbour protection from any criminal liability in India.
If Twitter is so committed, why it did not set up such a mechanism in India on its own?, the ministry asked, while stating that Twitter India representatives routinely try to evade responsibility by claiming they have no authority and the people of India will have to reach out to Twitter headquarters in the USA. It called Twitter’s claims of ‘commitment to India’ as hollow and self-serving.
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— ANI (@ANI) May 27, 2021
India’s legal system: Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology pic.twitter.com/WyGumYToYv
The ministry’s statement further added that despite earning a large revenue from India, Twitter doesn’t want to appoint an India-based grievance redressal system.
It stated that the current rules by the IT ministry enable users who become victims of abuse, defamation and morphed images in blatant violation of law to have a grievance redressal system and the rules were formulated after the widest possible consultations with social media platforms, and suggestions from individuals, civil society and industry associations. There are also several judicial orders including that of the Supreme Court, asking the government of India to take appropriate steps.
The ministry further added that freedom of speech is a fundamental right under the Indian constitution and the govt of India respects the right of citizens to ask questions and criticise on social media platforms, including Twitter. The government also 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, accounts are suspended and tweets are arbitrarily deleted”, the statement asserted.
Twitter has no locus in dictating what India’s legal policy framework should be
“Twitter needs to stop beating around the bush and comply with Indian law. Lawmaking and policy formulations are the sole prerogatives of the sovereign and Twitter is just a social media platform. It will have no locus in dictating what India’s legal policy framework should be”, the statement strongly asserted.
The ministry also gave examples of how Twitter has violated Indian law and undermined the interests of India’s people.
-It had shown certian parts of Indian Union Territory as parts of China and took several days to correct mistakes despite reminders.
-Twitter had taken sun motu action against perpetrators of violence at Capitol Hill in USA, but refused to take prompt action when GOI’s made lawful request to block content when similar incidents happened at Red Fort in Delhi.
-Twitter’s lack of action has helped the rampant proliferation of fake and harmful content against India and Indians. Vaccine hesitancy was rampantly promoted via Twitter and the company has taken no action.
-Discriminatory behaviour against Indians has taken place because of Twitter’s refusal to flag malicious tagging of the B.1.617 variant of Covid as “Indian variant” despite WHO guidelines against it.
Finally, the ministry stated that Twitter is merely a private company and it needs to refrain from false grandiosities and comply with laws of India.
The govt also asserted that representatives of social media companies in India, including those of Twitter will always remain safe and there is no threat to their personal safety and security in India.
The government called the statement by Twitter entirely baseless, false and an attempt by Twitter to hide their own follies.