Amid row over micro-blogging platform Twitter's non-compliance of its order, Union IT and communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said all social media platforms are welcome to work in India but they will have to adhere to Indian laws.
While speaking in the Rajya Sabha, the union minister said: "Whether it's Twitter, FB, LinkedIn or WhatsApp, they are welcome to work in India, have crores of followers, but they will have to adhere to the Indian Constitution and laws."
He said the government respects social media a lot, which has empowered common people. "Social media has a big role in the Digital India programme. However, if social media is misused to spread fake news, violence then action will be taken," he added.
He said the Centre has flagged the issues over inflammatory hashtags being allowed to trend on Twitter. What do you mean when you trend hashtags of the genocide of farmers, he asked. The minister indirectly accused the social media platform of bias when it comes to enforcing rules in India. "When something happens in Washington's Capitol Hill, Twitter intervenes. And when it is India, you don't," he said.
As the row over Twitter's non-compliance of the government's notices intensifies, top executives of Twitter face arrest under the Section 69A of the IT Act if the Centre's orders are not followed. The Centre has already made it clear that its demand on such accounts is "non-negotiable".
As the Centre's patience on Twitter non-compliance of its orders wears out, the micro-blogging site may also knock the court's door in its defence of "right of free expression".
After releasing a report on the actions taken on the government's orders on Wednesday, Twitter executives Monique Meche and Jim Baker met Union IT secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney later in the evening.
Sawhney made it clear that lawfully passed orders are binding on any business entity. "They must be obeyed immediately. If they are executed days later, it becomes meaningless," said a government statement after the meeting.
After Twitter's blogpost explaining actions taken on the government's orders on Wednesday, Twitter executives told the IT secretary that it's committed to following Indian laws and rules. They also requested for better engagement between the Centre and Twitter's global team.