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Twitter loses protection in India, booked in case in UP for viral video

Twitter Logo. Photo: Facebook/@TwitterInc

New Delhi, June 16 (MNN) The legal protection to Twitter against posting of third-party content in India stands withdrawn since, the Indian government said, the social media platform had failed to comply with Intermediary Guidelines that came into effect from May 26.

Twitter along with eight others were booked in Ghaziabad district of Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday night over the posting of what the police alleged was misleading content to foment communal feelings.

Those booked along with Twitter Inc and Twitter India were Mohammed Zubair, Saba Naqvi, Rana Ayyub, The Wire, Salman Nizami, Maskoor Usmani, and Shama Mohammed.

India’s Communications, Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Wednesday that there were numerous queries as to whether Twitter was entitled to “safe harbour provision”.

“However, the simple fact of the matter is that Twitter has failed to comply… Twitter was given multiple opportunities to comply with the same, but it deliberately chose the path of non-compliance.

“The culture of India varies like its large geography. In certain scenarios, with the amplification of social media, even a small spark can cause a fire, especially with the menace of fake news. This was one of the objectives of bringing the Intermediary Guidelines.

“It is astounding that Twitter, which portrays itself as the flag-bearer of free speech, chooses the path of deliberate defiance when it comes to the Intermediary Guidelines,” the Minister tweeted.

He claimed that what was perplexing was that Twitter had failed to address the grievances of users by refusing to set up process as mandated by the law of the land. “Additionally, it chooses a policy of flagging manipulates media, only when it suits, its likes and dislikes.”

“What happened in UP was illustrative of Twitter’s arbitrariness in fighting fake news. While Twitter has been over enthusiastic about its fact-checking mechanism, it’s failure to act in multiple cases like UP is perplexing and indicates its inconsistency in fighting misinformation,” the Minister claimed.

“Indian companies be it pharma, IT or others that go to do business in USA or in other foreign countries, voluntarily follow the local laws. Then why are platforms like Twitter showing reluctance in following Indian laws designed to give voice to the victims of abuse and misuse?”

Prasad said the rule of law is the bedrock of Indian society. India’s commitment to the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech was yet again reaffirmed at the G7 summit, he added.

“However, if any foreign entity believes that they can portray itself as the flag-bearer of free speech in India to excuse itself from complying with the law of the land, such attempts are misplaced.”

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