Follow the law of land, House panel to Twitter

AM Jigeesh/S Ronendra Singh New Delhi | Updated on June 18, 2021

Microblogging site gets 2 weeks to reply to queries

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology pulled up Twitter for its contradictory positions in India and in other countries.

The panel, headed by senior Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, which met on Friday, while seeking the online platform’s views on “safeguarding citizens rights and prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms including special emphasis on women security in digital space,” asked its representatives to respect the law of the land and abide by the rules set by the Centre and the State governments.

The US-based microblogging platform has been given two weeks to submit written answers to the queries of the panel members. This was Twitter’s second meeting with the panel on the issue.

Some Opposition members on the panel asked Twitter to explain why it is failing to act against abusive and hate-spreading handles. “They took action against former US President Donald Trump when he incited violence. In India, a number of verified Twitter accounts thrive even while spreading hate among people. There is no action yet. We asked them why this duplicity,” an Opposition member told BusinessLine.

Ruling party members reminded Twitter representatives that countries such as Nigeria, Russia, South Korea and Iran have taken action against the company for violating rules/regulations. “We told them that they cannot claim that their policies are above the laws of the land. They must abide by the direction of the Union government and appoint officers the law demands,” one MP said.

Another member said even in India, Twitter has different policies for different States.

‘Will work with panel’

A Twitter spokesperson 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.”

The panel also looked into the written submission by Facebook. “Most answers are repetitive. It looks like that we may have to call Facebook again,” another member said.

Twitter was represented by its public policy manager Shagufta Kamran and legal counsel Ayushi Kapoor.

Published on June 18, 2021

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