Twitter’s conduct obfuscatory, diversionary: Delhi Police’s rebuttal over ‘toolkit’ row | India News

Twitter’s conduct obfuscatory, diversionary: Delhi Police’s rebuttal over ‘toolkit’ row | India News

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New Delhi: Hours after social media major Twitter released a statement citing a threat to freedom of expression and intimidation by the authorities, the Delhi Police on Thursday (May 27) rebutted the claims and made counter-allegations of their own.

Calling the conduct of Twitter obfuscatory, diversionary and tendentious, the Delhi Police said that the statements released by the company are “not only mendacious but designed to impede a lawful inquiry by a private enterprise.”

“We have come across press reports that quote Twitter Inc. statements pertaining to the ongoing inquiry by Delhi Police. Prima facie, these statements are not only mendacious but designed to impede a lawful inquiry by a private enterprise. Twitter Inc. has taken upon itself, in the garb of terms of service, to adjudicate the truth or otherwise of documents in public space,” said Delhi Police in a statement.

“Twitter Inc. is purporting to be both an investigating authority as well as an adjudicating judicial authority. It has no legal sanction to be either. The only legal entity, so empowered by the duly laid down law, to investigate is the Police and to adjudicate is the Courts,” they added.

“However, since Twitter Inc. claims to have material information basis which is not only ‘investigated’ but arrived at a ‘conclusion’, it must share that information with the Police. There should not be any confusion about this logical course,” the statement read further, adding, “The entire conduct by Twitter Inc, including its Indian entity, in the last few days has been obfuscatory, diversionary and tendentious. There is one simple thing to do which Twitter refuses to do. That is, cooperate with the law enforcement and reveal to the legal authority the information it has.”

Earlier today, Twitter called the visit by Delhi Police to its offices a form of intimidation and said it was concerned about its employees and the potential threat to freedom of expression.

“Right now, we are concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression for the people we serve,” Twitter said in a statement.

“We, alongside many in civil society in India and around the world, have concerns with regards to the use of intimidation tactics by the police in response to enforcement of our global Terms of Service, as well as with core elements of the new IT rules,” the company added.

In response, the Delhi Police has enumerated four points to counter the narrative.

Read the full statement by the Delhi Police here:

“We have come across press reports that quote Twitter Inc. statements pertaining to the ongoing inquiry by Delhi Police.

Prima facie, these statements are not only mendacious but designed to impede a lawful inquiry by a private enterprise. Twitter Inc. has taken upon itself, in the garb of terms of service, to adjudicate the truth or otherwise of documents in public space.

Twitter Inc. is purporting to be both an investigating authority as well as an adjudicating judicial authority. It has no legal sanction to be either. The only legal entity, so empowered by the duly laid down law, to investigate is the Police and to adjudicate is the Courts.

However, since Twitter Inc. claims to have material information basis which it not only ‘investigated’ but arrived at a ‘conclusion’, it must share that information with the Police. There should not be any confusion about this logical course.

The entire conduct by Twitter Inc, including its Indian entity, in the last few days has been obfuscatory, diversionary and tendentious. There is one simple thing to do which Twitter refuses to do. That is, cooperate with the law enforcement and reveal to the legal authority the information it has.

Twitter, being a public platform, must lead by example in demonstrating transparency in its functioning which has a bearing on public discourse and should proactively bring clarity into what are subject matters of public domain.

Since the matter has been put in public domain, it is important to set the record straight on the tendentious statements made.

First, Delhi police has registered a preliminary inquiry at the instance of a complaint filed by the representative of the Indian National Congress. Hence, the efforts by Twitter Inc. that portray that this as an FIR filed at the behest of the Government of India is wholly and completely incorrect.

Second, Delhi Police is conducting a preliminary inquiry on the same and the matter is under investigation. Twitter Inc., while placing the cart before the horse, went ahead and declared that the toolkit was ‘Manipulated Media’. This clearly demonstrates that Twitter Inc. was acquainted with the facts of the case and it had material information which was germane to the inquiry by a duly recognized law enforcement agency. Therefore, Twitter was asked, by way of multiple communications, to join the inquiry to provide the information it possesses.

Third, the purpose of Twitter being served a notice to participate in the inquiry was to allow the investigation to process to proceed and bring all relevant matters on record. Twitter India’s subsidiary, TCIPL’s Managing Director, chose to adopt a path of evasiveness instead of cooperation.

Initially, TCIPL’s Managing Director stated in his response that he was merely a sales head, had no role whatsoever in any operations relating to content and thereby refused to join the inquiry. It is to be noted that TCIPL’s stance that it’s Managing Director is a mere sales head runs contrary to his very own previous press interviews wherein he elaborately discussed Twitter’s plan to devise methods to identify abusive/ manipulative content. The above interview makes it clear, that Twitter India’s convoluted stance is similar to a deer caught in the headlights.

Fourth and last, the contrived fear-mongering by Twitter Inc. unfounded and misplaced. The Managing Director of TCIPL was merely served a notice, not as an accused but to participate in the inquiry as Twitter claims to have been acquainted with certain facts.

Twitter’s Inc’s latest statements are devised to seek dubious sympathy when they themselves not only refuse to comply with the law of the land but also claim to be possession of material evidence but refuse to share it with legal authority duly recognized.”

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