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'Law of the land supreme': Parliamentary panel grills Twitter over violation of new IT rules

The Standing Committee on Information Technology, headed by Congress Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor, told Twitter India's officials that the company will have to abide by the government's new IT rules

The parliamentary panel on IT had summoned Twitter over concerns of misuse of the social media platform as well as the protection of citizens' rights The parliamentary panel on IT had summoned Twitter over concerns of misuse of the social media platform as well as the protection of citizens' rights

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology told Twitter on Friday that the "law of the land is supreme" and not the company's policies.

The panel, headed by Congress Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor, had summoned Twitter over concerns of misuse of the social media platform as well as the protection of citizens' rights.

Twitter India's public policy manager Shagufta Kamran and legal counsel Ayushi Kapoor deposed before the Parliamentary committee amid the ongoing row between the Centre and the company over the new IT rules.

The committee told Twitter India's officials that the company will have to abide by the government's rules.

Also Read: Twitter reveals what's holding it back from complying with new IT rules

In response, the officials told the panel that "we follow our own policies," which was strongly objected to by the committee members, who categorically told the Twitter India officials that the company is not above the law of the land.

"We appreciate the opportunity to share our views before the Standing Committee on Information Technology. 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, and privacy," a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement.

The spokesperson added that the company will also continue to work alongside the Indian government as part of its shared commitment to serve and protect the public conversation.

According to sources, members of the Parliamentary panel also asked Twitter why it should not be fined as it has been found "violating" the rules of the country.

Earlier this month, the Centre had issued a notice to Twitter giving it one last chance to "immediately" comply with the new IT rules and warned that failure to adhere to the norms will lead to the platform losing exemption from liability under the IT Act.

The government, earlier this week, slammed Twitter for deliberate defiance and failure to comply with the IT rules, which has led to the US giant losing its intermediary status in India and becoming liable for users posting any unlawful content.

Twitter has allegedly not fully complied with the new rules, called Intermediary Guidelines, that mandate setting up a grievance redressal mechanism and appointing officers to coordinate with law enforcement.

Also Read: 'Will comply with new IT rules, need more time': Twitter tells Centre

The rules became effective from May 26 and Twitter, even after the expiry of the additional time, had not appointed the requisite officers, leading to it losing the ''safe harbour'' immunity.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT, chaired by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, had summoned Twitter officials over issues related to misuse of the platform and protection of citizens' rights.

On Friday, members of the panel asked some tough and searching questions to Twitter India officials, but their answers lacked clarity and were ambiguous, sources said.

The members strongly objected to the observation by Twitter India officials that its policy is on par with the rule of land and categorically told them "rule of land is supreme, not your policy," sources said.

Twitter and the government have been at loggerheads over multiple instances in the past months, including during the farmers' protest and later when the microblogging platform tagged political posts of several leaders of the ruling party BJP as "manipulated media", triggering a sharp rebuke from the Centre.

(With inputs from PTI.)