New Delhi: After losing “safe harbor” shield for non-compliance of new IT rules in India the social media giant Twitter finds itself on the receiving end during a meeting with the Parliamentary standing committee on Information and technology on Friday. According to sources, Twitter representatives were clearly told by the members of the committee headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor that the rule of the land was supreme and it must abide by Indian laws.
Twitter India’s legal counsel Ayushi Kapoor and public policy manager Shagufta Kamran appeared before the committee and the meeting lasted for 90 minutes. The committee members beyond party lines were unanimous of the view that Twitter must comply with the new rules framed by the government of India. Twitter was asked whether their company’s rules are important or the law of land? The members found twitter’s response vague as its representatives replied that “Twitter rules are equally important for them”. Another talking point in the meeting was Twitter’s fact-checking policy. Few members from the ruling BJP pointed out that BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, was promptly given the “manipulated media” tag, while alacrity was not there in other cases. The committee has sought a written reply from Twitter on various questions. The committee is also expected to summon Twitter officials again, having indicated that discussions would continue.
The agenda of the meeting of the committee was “Safeguarding citizen’s rights and prevention of misuse of social / online news media platforms including special emphasis on women security in the digital space”.
BJP MPs Nishikant Dubey, Rajyawardan Rathore, Tejasvi Surya, Sanjay Seth, Zafar Islam, Subhash Chandra–were present during the meeting, while from the Opposition camp, besides Tharoor, TMC MP Mahua Moitra and TDP MP Jaidev Galla were present.
After the meeting, twitter released a statement and said “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.” “We will also continue working alongside the Indian Government as part of our shared commitment to serve and protect the public conversation.’’
Twitter India is at loggerheads with the government of India as it delayed compliance with the new IT rules framed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. Twitter has reportedly lost its ‘safe harbour’ protection in India over non-compliance with IT rules and failure to appoint key personnel mandated under the new guidelines. The resident grievance officer and the nodal contact person nominated by the company, is not an employee of Twitter Inc in India, the Ministry had also not received any concrete information on Chief Compliance Officer, the name, or details. In a development earlier this week an FIR has also been filed against Twitter in Ghaziabad over provoking communal sentiments after an elderly Muslim man alleged that he was assaulted on June 5. The UP Police has ruled out the communal angle in the incident.