Micro-blogging site Twitter on Thursday released a statement regarding the new IT rules 2021 highlighting "the potential threat to freedom of expression" and "the use of intimidation tactics by the police" in India.
"Twitter is deeply committed to the people of India. Our service has proven vital for the public conversation and a source of support for people during the pandemic. 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," said a Twitter spokesperson, as reported by NDTV.
"Right now, we are concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression for the people we serve. We, alongside many in civil society in India and around the world, have concerns with regards to the use of intimidation tactics by the police in response to enforcement of our global Terms of Service, as well as with core elements of the new IT Rules. We plan to advocate for changes to elements of these regulations that inhibit free, open public conversation. We will continue our constructive dialogue with the Indian Government and believe it is critical to adopt a collaborative approach. It is the collective responsibility of elected officials, industry, and civil society to safeguard the interests of the public," they added. The police had visited Twitter offices in Delhi on Monday to serve notice demanding an explanation of the "Manipulated media" tag on the tweet of BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra of an alleged "Congress toolkit". The Government had also demanded the removal of the tag and accused Twitter of tampering with its investigations into the authenticity of the toolkit shared by Patra.
Twitter is the second after WhatsApp to take a stand against the new rules that took effect on Wednesday. The new rules demand a complaint redressal mechanism, including the appointment of a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and resident grievance officer. Social media sites would also be responsible for tracking the origin of information and disabling access to it on being notified by the Government, failing which they shall lose protection from prosecution for "objectionable" content posted by their users.
However, the IT ministry slammed Twitter's statement in a letter that reads, "Twitter needs to stop beating around the bush and comply with the laws of the land. Lawmaking and policy formulations is sole prerogative of the sovereign… Twitter is just a social media platform and it has no locus in dictation what should India's legal policy framework should be."
"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 India's legal system," it added.