Twitter blames government for threatening free speech

Twitter started putting allegations on government for threatening free speech, Government counters it is defying Indian laws: On Thursday, amid the tensions between social media platform and government due to new guidelines, Twitter putted some serious allegations on government of “dangerous overreach that is inconsistent with open, democratic principles, ” and further also said that it is being forced to withhold portions of “legitimate free speech” over fears around the employees safety and some threats of financial penalties.

Sources are indicating that these were majorly related to the government’s request to pull down tweets related to farmer protests, as it was believed that these were peddling an anti-India sentiment and was an attempt to ruin India’s image globally and initiate some riots, as well as it is also related due to incidents during corona pandemic. The B1.617.2 variant which was initially found in India was being labelled as Indian variant in this social media platform and this was also ruining image of India globally.

A spokesperson of this giant social media platform gave an statement that, “We maintain that the content reported in the original order constitutes protected, legitimate free speech, under Indian and international law, and we have formally communicated this to the government… Yet, due to the law’s limited scope under Section 69A (of the IT Act) which gives limited room to an intermediary to defend the content, we have been compelled to withhold (block in India) in response to a non-compliance notice. Not doing so poses penal consequences with many risks for Twitter employees.

However, the spokesperson also added and defended himself that Twitter does not take any action on any verified accounts that consist of news media entities, journalists, activists, and politicians in keeping with our principles of defending protected speech and freedom of expression . The statement given by him came one day after the social media platform was deemed to be non-compliant with the new social media intermediary norms under which it is now required to appoint some designated officers to deal with the grievances and compliance apart from having a mechanism for pulling down content where there are maligned individuals or there is any sexually explicit matter.

Twitter said that there were some concerns over “intimidation tactics” by police and was bit critical of the new IT rules. The big social media platform also expressed its displeasure over the new rules taking which according to them is weakening the immunity of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram over third-party content. It is making them liable for criminal and civil action.

Just after few hours of allegations imposed by Twitter on Indian government the government replied charging the company with deliberately subverting the law of the land and also trying to “dictate” its terms even while using the term “opaque policies” to “arbitrarily” suspend user accounts and delete tweets without any proper explanation. The government asked the American company to stop beating around the bush and said that “the only instance of scuttling free speech on Twitter is Twitter itself and its opaque policies, as a result of which people’s accounts are suspended and tweets deleted arbitrarily without recourse“. The government further added that “law-making and policy formulation is the sole prerogative of the sovereign and Twitter is just a social media platform, and it has no locus in dictating what should India’s legal policy framework should be” and thus slammed Twitter.