Twitter Vs the Indian Government: Threat to the Freedom of Expression in India, Claims Twitter

Twitter Vs the Indian Government

After being quiet for a while, Twitter finally spoke on the matter of the new digital rules, which they are yet to comply with, while also being in conflict with the government about the “Congress Toolkit” row. Twitter expressed concerns regarding police intimidation techniques and key aspects of the new social media and intermediary regulations, becoming the third online media giant to oppose the government’s regulations for digital companies, which responded bitterly within hours, accusing Twitter of attempting to dictate terms to the world’s biggest democracy. 

The popular social media platform stated that it will keep up its reasonable discussion with the Indian government, maintaining its priority to serving the people of India. “It is the collective responsibility of elected officials, industry, and civil society to safeguard the interests of the public.” The remark comes in the wake of Twitter’s lengthy legal struggle with the government, which began in January-February of this year. The argument has raged on as the Centre has criticized Twitter for being slow to restrict content warned by the Centre, while Twitter has justified its actions by claiming free expression. This is also Twitter’s first formal response to the new IT laws, which were issued on February 25 and gave social network intermediaries in India 90 days to comply with.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology mentioned in a statement that Twitter is attempting to hinder the country’s legal framework by its activities and willful defiance. “Twitter needs to stop beating around the bush & comply with laws of the land. Law-making and policy formulations are the sole prerogatives of the sovereign and Twitter is just a social media platform & it has no locus in dictating what India’s legal policy framework should be”. Guaranteeing safety, the government also stated that representatives of social networking companies such as Twitter are secure in India and will always be secure. “There is no threat to their safety and security.”

It also stated that the exclusive prerogative of the sovereign is to make laws and formulate policies and that Twitter is merely a social networking forum with no authority to dictate what India’s legal policy structure should be. Twitter has a huge number of users in India, and it generates massive income from its Indian operations. However, it is the most hesitant to designate an India-based grievance handling officer and system, chief compliance officer, and nodal officer to whom its consumers can report when they are exposed to objectionable tweets. While slamming Twitter’s remark as completely untrue, misleading, and an endeavor to slander India in order to mask their errors, the Ministry asked why Twitter did not arrange one such mechanism in India on its own.

Adding to the current feud between the government and the social networking site, Delhi Police approached Twitter’s India headquarters on Monday to deliver a notice on Twitter’s India head for labeling a tweet by a BJP representative as “manipulated media.” Combining these topics, Twitter published a statement in which it stated that the new IT standards have features that impede free speech and that, at the moment, Twitter is concerned about the “safety of its employees in India.” “To keep our service available, we will strive to comply with applicable law in India. But, just as we do around the world, we will continue to be strictly guided by principles of transparency, a commitment to empowering every voice on the service, and protecting freedom of expression and privacy under the rule of law”. 

It is said to the social media platforms that those who will fail to adhere to the new IT laws will lose protection from lawsuits and prosecutions as “intermediaries”. They will no longer be able to claim security from offensive content posted by their users. So far, Facebook and Google have ensured compliance with the new IT regulations, but WhatsApp has sued the government saying that those laws will end the privacy of their users. And now, even Twitter is trying to have discussions on the matter with the government, although both parties are blaming and criticizing each other and a concrete outcome is yet to be released.