The Indian government has strongly controverted the claims made by Twitter in its statement. The Ministry of Electronics & IT said that India has a glorious tradition of free speech and democratic practices dating back centuries. Protecting free speech in India is not the prerogative of only a private, for-profit, foreign entity like Twitter, but it is the commitment of the world’s largest democracy and its robust institutions.
The ministry called Twitter’s statement an attempt to dictate its terms to the world’s largest democracy. Adding the ministry said that 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 based on which it is claiming safe harbour protection from any criminal liability in India.
“The larger question is if Twitter is so committed then why it did not set up such a mechanism in India on its own? Twitter representatives in India routinely claim that they have no authority and that they and the people of India need to escalate everything to the Twitter Headquarter in the USA. The purported commitment of Twitter, to its Indian user base, thus not only sounds hollow but completely self-serving,” the ministry added.
Twitter has a large user base in India, it earns significant revenue from its Indian operations but is also the most reluctant to appoint an India based grievance redressal officer and mechanism, chief compliance officer and nodal officer to whom its users can complain when they are subjected to offensive Tweets.
Further, the ministry said freedom of Speech and Expression is a Fundamental Right under the Indian Constitution. The Government of India respects the right of people to ask questions and also criticize these social media platforms including on Twitter. The Government equally 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 people’s accounts are suspended and tweets deleted arbitrarily without recourse.
“Twitter needs 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 should India’s legal policy framework should be,” the ministry added further.
Twitter has claimed that it is committed to the people of India. The ministry said that “Ironically, this commitment of Twitter has been most invisible in recent times.”
Twitter Inc., a USA based private company, in its communique, says that it seeks “constructive dialogue”, a “collaborative approach” from the government of a sovereign democratic republic to “safeguard interests of the public”. On which, the ministry said that “It is time that Twitter disabuses itself of this grandiosity and comply with the laws of India.”
That said, Government condemns the unfortunate statement issued by Twitter as totally baseless, false and an attempt to defame India to hide its follies.
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( With inputs from indiainfoline)