May 19, 2024

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We Follow Our Policies’: Twitter To Parliamentary Panel’s ‘Do You Follow Law Of Land?

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In response to the Parliamentary panel’s question, Twitter representative stated that it follows ‘its own policies,’ thereby blatantly shunning Indian rules

Making its deposition before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information & Technology on Friday, San Francisco-based microblogging site Twitter, in yet another act of defiance, refused to follow India’s laws regarding the operation of social media platforms. In response to a question of whether the social media giant follows the laws of the land in India, a Twitter representative stated that it follows ‘its own policies,’ thereby blatantly shunning India’s rules and regulations.

Twitter was then asked why it should not be fined for violating the rule of the land, with members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee telling Twitter officials that the law of the land was supreme and not its own policies.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee, headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, has asked Twitter India to submit in writing about how it is placed in the global branch and how much executive authority does it have in terms of making important policy decisions, as per ANI sources. Responding to Twitter’s answer, the Parliamentary Panel asserted that rule of land is ‘supreme’ and not the social media firm’s policy.

“We appreciate the opportunity to share our views before Standing Committee on IT. Twitter stands prepared to work with the Committee on the important work of safeguarding citizens’ rights online in line with our principles of transparency, freedom of expression, & privacy,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement.

The development comes amidst the Centre’s charge that Twitter India has failed to act on tough decisions often reasoning that it awaits instructions from its headquarters in California. Moreover, the Parliamentary Committee summon also comes at a time when Twitter and Center have been at loggerheads over the new IT rules introduced. Recently, Twitter in a statement said that it had appointed interim officers as sought by the Center and that it strives to comply with the rules, while job postings had been spotted for the given position on LinkedIn.

Under the new IT rules, significant social media intermediaries have been asked to appoint a Nodal Contact Person and a Resident Grievance Officer, in line with India’s new Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines & Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 guidelines rolled out in February. The IT rules also allow the Government to direct Intermediaries to remove or disable, content that displays partial or full nudity, sexual act, morphed images, etc within 24 hours of the complaint received.

Twitter loses intermediary status in India

On Wednesday, government sources indicated that Twitter had lost its “safe harbour” immunity in India for its failure to comply with the IT rules. While the new guidelines came into force on May 26, the social media giant was issued a final compliance notice by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on June 5 as the former was seeking amendments. The Center had clearly warned Twitter that nonadherence will lead to unintended consequences including Twitter losing exemption from liability as an intermediary.

Following the report, in a series of tweets, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad targeted platforms like Twitter for being reluctant to comply with India’s new IT rules which were designed to give a voice to the ‘victims of abuse and misuse.’ Tering the rule of law as the bedrock of the Indian society, the Union Minister highlighted that India had reaffirmed to uphold the freedom of speech at the recently-concluded G7 summit. Further, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad termed the attempts of Twitter and other such platforms to refuse compliance with Indian laws as misplaced.

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