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MeitY welcomes Twitter to India, keeps it on a short leash though

The IT Secretary emphasised that Twitter is welcome to do business in India but raised doubts about its commitment to transparency and healthy conversation on the platform

twitter-logoNidhi Singal | February 11, 2021 | Updated 00:10 IST
MeitY welcomes Twitter to India, keeps it on a short leash though

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • IT Ministry welcomes Twitter to do busines in India, yet raises doubts about transparency
  • Lawful orders are binding on any business entity and must be obeyed immediately, MeitY tells Twitter
  • Twitter global leadership requests better engagement with Government of India

The high-profile virtual meeting between Ajay Prakash Sawhney, Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), and Twitter global delegates - Monique Meche, Vice President-Global Public Policy and Jim Baker, Deputy General Counsel and Vice President-Legal - concluded a little while from now. The meeting took place amidst extant friction between the nation and the microblogging site. At the heart of the disagreement between the two parties lies alleged fake news, bot accounts and organised propaganda versus the stifling freedom of expression and free speech.

ALSO READ: MeitY coochy-coos KOO - India's alternative to Twitter

The government accuses Twitter of a delayed action against flagged accounts which allegedly spread misinformation using the hashtag '#FarmerGenocide'. "Spreading misinformation using an incendiary and baseless hashtag referring to 'farmer genocide' at a time when such irresponsible content can provoke and inflame the situation is neither journalistic freedom nor freedom of expression as envisaged under Article 19 of the Constitution of India," said IT Secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney.

While drawing a comparison between disturbance at Red Fort on the Republic Day and Capitol Hill in the USA, the government accused Twitter of differential treatment in two incidents. The IT Secretary went on to add that misuse of Twitter for execution of such campaigns designed to create disharmony and unrest in India is unacceptable and the social media platform must take strong action against such coordinated campaigns targetted at India, through in compliance with the applicable law of the land.

ALSO READ: Kangana Ranaut threatens to leave Twitter, says will join homegrown Koo

Sawhney emphasised that Twitter is welcome to do business in India but raised doubts about its commitment to transparency and healthy conversation on the platform. The senior official also reminded Twitter that lawfully passed orders are binding on any business entity and the same must be obeyed immediately. This was in reference to Centre's list of Twitter handles sent to the platform for deactivation in the backdrop of farmers' protest.

"In India, its Constitution and laws are supreme. It is expected that responsible entities not only reaffirm but remain committed to compliance to the law of land," Sawhney said.

Responding to points raised by MeitY over Twitter's commitment to transparency and healthy conversation on their platform, the platform's leadership affirmed commitment towards following Indian laws and rules. Twitter officials also expressed their continued commitment towards building their services in India. They requested better engagement between Government of India and Twitter's global team.

ALSO READ: Centre steadfast on ban call for 257 Twitter handles

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