After WhatsApp sued the government over the new digital IT rules, microblogging platform Twitter had expressed concerns over the potential threat to freedom of expression. Raising apprehension about the requirement of making an individual (the compliance officer) criminally liable for content on the platform, Twitter requested the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to consider a minimum 3-month extension to implement the new social media rules. Controverting the claims made by Twitter, MeitY raised concerns about Twitter not setting up such a mechanism in India on its own.
MeitY highlighted that Twitter has a large user base in India. While it earns significant revenue from its Indian operations, it is most reluctant to appoint an India-based grievance redressal officer and mechanism, chief compliance officer and nodal officer to whom Twitter users can complain, when they are subjected to offensive tweets. Currently, Twitter users in India need to escalate everything to the Twitter headquarter in the USA.
"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 the USA. The purported commitment of Twitter, to its Indian user base, thus not only sounds hollow but completely self-serving," MeitY said in the statement.
The government also highlighted that while Twitter claims to be committed to the people of India, it chose to show the geo-location of certain locations in the Union Territory of Ladakh as part of the People's Republic of China at a time when India and China were engaged in the peaceful resolution of border-related issues through bilateral dialogue. Even after repeated reminders, Twitter took several days to rectify this. In another instance, while Twitter chose to take suo-moto action against perpetrators of violence at Capitol Hill in the USA, it refused to take prompt action against unlawful incidents at Red Fort in Delhi. Meity in strong words also condemned Twitter's discriminatory behaviour against Indians and people of Indian origin because of malicious tagging of B.1.617 mutant as 'Indian variant' name despite strict WHO guidelines against it, where it took no action against such fake narratives and tweets.
MeitY in strong words suggested that Twitter needs to stop beating around the bush and comply with the laws of the land. "Lawmaking 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 should India's legal policy framework should be."