Government has rejected the claims made by Twitter over the freedom of expression in India saying protecting free speech in the country is not the prerogative of only a private, for-profit, foreign entity like Twitter. It asserted that India has a glorious tradition of free speech and democratic practices dating back centuries.
Countering the micro-blogging site’s statement in which it had expressed concerns over the potential threat to freedom of expression and alleged intimidation tactics by Delhi Police, the Centre said, 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. In a statement, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said the Twitter refuses to comply with those very regulations in the Intermediary Guidelines on the basis of which it is claiming a safe harbour protection from any criminal liability in India. The Ministry added that Twitter needs to stop beating around the bush and comply with laws of the land.
It said the 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. 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 own users can complain, when they are subjected to offensive Tweets.
While condemning the statement issued by Twitter as totally baseless, false and an attempt to defame India to hide their own follies, the Ministry questioned 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 USA. The Ministry asserted that the new rules empower the ordinary users who become victims of defamation, morphed images, sexual abuse and the whole range of other abusive content in blatant violation of law, to seek redress. The government also assured that representatives of social media companies including Twitter are and will always remain safe in India and there is no threat to their personal safety and security.
Meanwhile, Delhi Police has also countered the claim of twitter saying its statements are devised to seek dubious sympathy when they themselves not only refuse to comply with the law of the land. The Police said Twitter declared that the toolkit was Manipulated Media, this clearly shows that it was acquainted with the facts of the case and had material information relevant to the probe. Hence, Twitter was asked to join the inquiry to provide the information it possesses. It added that Twitter is purporting to be both an investigating authority as well as an adjudicating judicial authority. It has no legal sanction to be either.
Earlier, Delhi Police had sent a notice to micro-blogging site Twitter over the toolkit controversy which was related to the classification of a tweet by BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra as manipulative. Mr Patra had shared an alleged toolkit prepared by Congress to target the government. Later, Twitter had labelled it as manipulated media. Congress had also termed the toolkit as forged.