Minister of Communications, Electronics & Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad today said that Twitter took the path of non-compliance deliberately in defiance of the Indian laws. Prasad took to Twitter to explain that its attempt to portray itself as the flag-bearer of free speech while not complying with the laws of the land is misplaced.
Addressing the queries of whether Twitter is entitled to safe harbour provision, the union minister said that Twitter has failed to comply with the Intermediary Guidelines that came into effect from May 26 despite being given multiple opportunities to do so and has ‘deliberately chosen the path of non-compliance’.
“The culture of India varies like its large geography. In certain scenarios, with the amplification of social media, even a small spark can cause a fire, especially with the menace of fake news. This was one of the objectives of bringing the Intermediary Guidelines. It is astounding that Twitter which portrays itself as the flag bearer of free speech, chooses the path of deliberate defiance when it comes to the Intermediary Guidelines,” said Prasad.
He also alleged that Twitter has refused to set up a grievance redressal system. “Further, what is perplexing is that Twitter fails to address the grievances of users by refusing to set up process as mandated by the law of the land. Additionally, it chooses a policy of flagging manipulates media, only when it suits, its likes and dislikes. What happened in UP was illustrative of Twitter’s arbitrariness in fighting fake news. While Twitter has been over enthusiastic about its fact checking mechanism, its failure to act in multiple cases like UP is perplexing and indicates its inconsistency in fighting misinformation,” claimed Prasad, referring to a case pertaining to an assault of an elderly man by three people in Ghaziabad’s Loni area. A video of the incident was later circulated on social media by giving it a communal colour.
Prasad said that when Indian companies, be it pharma, IT or others go to do business in foreign countries, they voluntarily follow the local laws. “Then why are platforms like Twitter showing reluctance in following Indian laws designed to give voice to the victims of abuse and misuse?” questioned Prasad.
He said that the rule of law is the bedrock of Indian society and the country is committed to the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech. “However, if any foreign entity believes that they can portray itself as the flag bearer of free speech in India to excuse itself from complying with the law of the land, such attempts are misplaced,” said Prasad.
Earlier today, the Twitter spokesperson said that it is working to comply with the law and is keeping the ministry informed. “We are keeping MeitY (Ministry of Electronics & IT) apprised of progress at every step of the process. The interim Chief Compliance Officer has been retained and details will be shared with the Ministry directly soon. Twitter continues to make every effort to comply with new guidelines,” said Twitter.
According to reports, Twitter has lost its status as an intermediary platform in India due to non-compliance with the new IT rules. It means that instead of being considered just a platform hosting content from various users, Twitter will be directly editorially responsible for posts published on its platform.