Twitter must abide by Indian laws, govt says – The Economic Times

Clipped from:

Twitter is siding not with “freedom of expression” but rather with those who seek to abuse such freedom and provoke disturbance to public order, government says.

New Delhi: The central government has told Twitter that it has to comply with the Indian laws irrespective of the company’s rules and called out the differential treatment in its actions during the Capitol Hill episode and the disturbance in Red Fort and its aftermath.

Conveying a “deep sense of disappointment”, the government said Twitter was siding not with “freedom of expression” but with those who seek to abuse such freedom and disturb public order. The social network is “welcome to do business in India but it must respect and abide by the Indian laws, which are enacted by the Parliament of India”, the government said in a statement late night on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, Twitter in a blog said it has not taken “any action” to suspend accounts of news entities, journalists, activists and politicians as it would violate “fundamental right to free expression under Indian law”.

Strong Displeasure

In a meeting chaired by ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY) secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney and attended by Twitter vice-president of global public policy, Monique Meche and Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker, the government expressed strong displeasure over the way Twitter acted after an emergency order was issued to remove the “farmer genocide” hashtag.

“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,” the government said in a statement that was promoted on Koo, the local rival of Twitter, on Wednesday.

It added that despite the attention of Twitter being drawn to such content by the government through a lawful process, the platform allowed the content with this hashtag to continue, which was “extremely unfortunate”.

“Lawfully passed orders are binding on any business entity. They must be obeyed immediately. If they are executed days later, it becomes meaningless… Twitter has unwillingly, grudgingly and with great delay complied with the substantial parts of the order,” the statement said.

The Twitter officials in their response affirmed their commitment toward following Indian laws. They also expressed their continuing commitment toward building their services in India, the government said.

Twitter did not respond to ET’s request for comments on the meeting.

“Twitter is free to formulate its own rules and guidelines, like any other business entity does, but Indian laws which are enacted by the Parliament of India must be followed irrespective of Twitter’s own rules and guidelines,” the government said.

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