Stop beating around the bush & comply with laws: MeitY to Twitter


Team Udayavani, May 28, 2021, 11:27 AM IST

Hours after Twitter expressed concerns about “potential threat to freedom of expression” over the new IT rules, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) on Thursday rebutted the microblogging company’s statement, asking it to “stop beating around the bush and comply with the laws of the land”.

“Law making 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. The only instance of scuttling free speech on Twitter is Twitter itself and its opaque policies, as a result of which people’s accounts are suspended and tweets deleted arbitrarily without recourse,” MeitY said in a statement.

Earlier on Thursday, Twitter had said that it was concerned by recent events regarding their employees in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression.

“Concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and potential threat to freedom of expression for people we serve. We have concerns with regards to intimidation police’s tactics in response to enforcement of global Terms of Service and core elements of the new IT Rules,” a Twitter spokesperson said.

Reacting to the above the MeitY said that Twitter’s purported commitment to its Indian user base sounded “hollow but completely self-serving”.

“India had a “glorious tradition of free speech and democratic practices” and Twitter’s statements were 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 safe harbour protection from any criminal liability in India,” the statement added.

Twitter has a large user base in India and earns significant revenue but is also the most reluctant to appoint an India-based grievance redressal mechanism, MeitY said, stating that the Centre’s rules empower ordinary users who become victims of abuse on the platform to seek redress.

The Ministry further said that the rules were finalized after the widest possible consultations and the draft was put in the public domain and invited public comments.

The Government of India respects the right of people to ask questions, criticize and privacy, it added, and said the ‘only instance of scuttling free speech on Twitter is Twitter itself and its opaque policies, as a result of which people’s accounts are suspended and tweets deleted arbitrarily without recourse.’

The Delhi police, reacting to statements by Twitter on the ongoing enquiry in the ‘toolkit’ case too said, “Prima facie, these statements are not only mendacious but designed to impede a lawful inquiry by a private enterprise. Twitter Inc. has taken upon itself, in the garb of terms of service, to adjudicate the truth or otherwise of documents in public space.”

 

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