The clash between Twitter and the Indian government continues with a plea being filed in the Delhi High Court on Friday, May 28, against the microblogging platform over its non-compliance with the new IT rules.
On February 25, the union government released the new Information Technology Rules, 2021, which instructed significant' social media platforms to strengthen grievance redressal system by onboarding local officers, taking down content when asked by the government, and to make better use of technology to identifying and tracking harmful posts.
Responding to the regulations, Twitter said that it would try its best to comply with the new local laws established by the government but will not compromise with its commitment to offer free speech and open internet to its users. It stated plans to go into a negotiation with the government by accepting to comply with applicable laws but demanded amendments in portions that inhibited free speech.
"To keep our service available, we will strive to comply with applicable law in India. But, just as we do around the world, we will continue to be strictly guided by principles of transparency, a commitment to empowering every voice on the service, and protecting freedom of expression and privacy under the rule of law," Twitter asserted.
This comes against the backdrop of Twitter adding 'Manipulated Media' tags to the tweets of the spokesperson of the ruling BJP party and other party leaders. The Delhi Police visited two offices of the organisation to serve notice in this connection.
Twitter expressed concern regarding its employees in India and termed this move of the police as "intimidation tactics". It is also said that there existed a potential threat to the freedom of expression of its users in the country.
The Centre, in response, asked Twitter to stop hitting around the bush and comply with the new laws.
"Twitter refuses to comply with those very regulations in the Intermediary Guidelines on the basis of which it is claiming a safe harbour protection from any criminal liability in India," read the government statement, reported Hindustan Times.
"India has a glorious tradition of free speech and democratic practices dating back centuries. Protecting free speech in India is not the prerogative of only a private, for-profit, foreign entity like Twitter," it added.
Experts Criticise The IT Rules
On May 27, V Balakrishnan, an IT industry veteran, also criticised the new rules rolled out by the government saying that it unduly compromises the privacy rights of the citizens.
"India is one of the large social media ecosystem in the world which is free till now and the apprehension is that we are going the Chinese way", he said, reported NDTV.
"At present, as per rules, it is with the executive arm of the government which is a big worry especially considering the track record of the current government in handling such issues," said Balakrishnan.