On the request of Twitter, Secretary Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India held a virtual interaction with Ms. Monique Meche, Vice President Global Public Policy and Mr. Jim Baker Deputy General Counsel and Vice President Legal.
The virtual meet was held In view of the order issued by the Government of India directing Twitter to remove Tweets and accounts using hashtag related to ‘farmer genocide’ and accounts supported by Khalistan sympathizers and backed by Pakistan and blog post issued by Twitter.
Secretary told the Twitter representatives that in India, we value freedom and we value criticism because it is part of our democracy. India has a robust mechanism for protection of freedom of speech and expression that is very elaborately explained as Fundamental Rights under Article 19 (1) of the Constitution of India. But freedom of expression is not absolute and it is subject to reasonable restrictions as mentioned in Article 19 (2) of the Constitution of India. Various judgments of the Supreme Court have also upheld this from time to time.
He further highlighted that Twitter is welcome to do business in India, but Indian laws which are enacted by the Parliament of India must be followed irrespective of Twitter’s own rules and guidelines.
Secretary took up the issue of using a hashtag on ‘farmer genocide’ with Twitter executives and expressed strong displeasure on the way Twitter acted after an emergency order was issued to remove this hashtag and content related to that.
Secretary reminded Twitter about the action taken by Twitter during the Capitol Hill episode in the USA and compared that with the disturbance in Red Fort in India and its aftermath. He expressed dissatisfaction over Twitter’s differential treatment in the two incidents.
He expressed his deep disappointment to Twitter leadership about the manner in which Twitter has unwillingly, grudgingly and with great delay complied with the substantial parts of the order.
The Govt. conveyed to the Twitter leadership that the manner in which Twitter officially allows fake, unverified, anonymous and automated bot accounts to be operated on its platform, raises doubts about its commitment to transparency and healthy conversation on this platform.
Twitter leadership affirmed their commitment towards following Indian laws and rules.