Twitter claims Free Speech in India is threatened; Government strikes back with claims that Twitter seeks to undermine India’s legal system

The battle between social media giants and the Government of India is heating up significantly, with the latest one being about the new IT rules. Twitter has come out with a statement alleging that the Government’s new rules infringes on the rights to freedom of speech, with dangerous levels of overreach. In response, Government of India released a statement, claiming that Twitter is trying to dictate their own terms to India and subverting the law of the land.

Among the various major tech companies in India, Twitter is one that has remained non-compliant to the new IT rules that went into effect earlier this week on Wednesday. Some of the many requirements of the law include requiring social media companies to have designated officers for grievances and compliance, have systems to take down content where individuals maligned or shown in a sexually explicit manner.

Twitter has been critical about the new rules, claiming that the rules reduced the freedom of speech for Indian citizens. In particular, the company is worried about the rules that states the compliance officer will be criminally liable for content on the platform, along with increased proactive monitoring that would be required, and the absolute authority demanded by the Government for information about any individual on the platform.

Twitter has stated that they are “deeply committed” to India and that they will “strive to comply with the applicable law”, while advocating for changing elements of the new law that “inhibit free, open public conversation”.

Just a few hours after Twitter alleged that the Government of India is attempting to block free speech, the Government of India struck back with claims of Twitter trying to subvert the law of the land and also “dictate its terms to the world’s largest democracy”.

The Government points out the various inconsistencies of Twitter’s stance of free speech and how Twitter failed to have their own local system for grievance redressal in India, even though they claim to be “committed” to India.

“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 said in its statement.

The statement continues to point various examples of Twitter failing to cater to legal requests made by the Government of India and how Twitter’s decisions and slow action has hurt the image of India in the world and the sentiments of Indian citizens.

Demanding compliance, they stated,

Twitter needs to stop beating around the bush and comply with the laws of the land. Law making and policy formulations 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.

To read the full statement from the Government of India, click here.