India

Twitter grilled by MPs over violating new IT Rules

Law of land supreme, officials told at House Panel meeting.

Social Media giant Twitter was at the receiving end of prolonged questioning by members of the Standing Committee on Information and Technology headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, on non-compliance of new IT rules, usage of manipulated media tag and fact checking.  

According to sources, Senior Manager Public Policy, Ms. Shagufta and Ayushi kapoor, Twitter India legal counsel were present at the meeting. 

The committee members unanimously were critical about Twitter dragging its feet on complying with the new IT rules. The Twitter officials claimed that they abided by their policy. The members, sources said, told Twitter that the rule of land is supreme. According to sources, members of the Parliamentary Panel on Information Technology also asked Twitter why it should not be fined as it has been found “violating” rules of the country.

Recently the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had served one last notice to Twitter asking it to immediately comply with the new IT rules and warned that failure to adhere to the norms will lead to the platform losing exemption from liability under the IT Act.

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“Twitter representatives remained non-committal about the timeline by when they will be able to comply fully to the rules. We have also asked for a written reply to a set of questions,” one of the members said. 

The BJP MPs also questioned Twitter on their “fact-checking” policy, pointing out that BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, was promptly given the “manipulated media” tag, while such alacrity was not shown in the Ghaziabad case. An FIR has 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. 

The BJP members accused Twitter of showing bias against the saffron party, alleging that their fact checkers are more inclined to blame BJP instead of fighting fake news. Sources said that Twitter informed the panel that the fact checking is done by a third party and not by Twitter itself. 

Following the meeting a Twitter spokesperson in a statement said, “We appreciate the opportunity to share our views before the Standing Committee on Information Technology.  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.”


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