Indian police on Monday visited a Twitter office to serve a notice to the micro-blogging firm's country head for a probe into its tagging of a tweet by a ruling party spokesman as "manipulated media".
The government condemned Twitter’s statement on safety and freedom of speech and said that it is baseless, false and an attempt to defame India.
This comes just hours after the microblogging platform said it is worried about the safety of its employees and “intimidation tactics” by police in India, just days after the raid in its office. The platform has also asked for three more months’ time to comply with the new IT rules that came into effect on May 26.
On Monday, Twitter's office was raided by the police and MD Manish Maheshwari was served a notice as part of an ongoing investigation against manipulated media tag for tweets.
In a statement today, a Twitter spokesperson said: “Right now, we are concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression for the people we serve.”
Alluding to the police raid, Twitter said that it, along with other companies, have concerns with the “intimidation tactics by the police in response to enforcement of our global Terms of Service, as well as with core elements of the new IT rules.”
It further said that certain aspect of the rules such as criminal penalty for chief compliance officer and proactive monitoring are concerning, and had asked for three more months’ time to comply with the rules.
In a letter to Twitter, the government said, “Twitter’s statement is an attempt to dictate its terms to the world’s largest democracy. Through its actions and deliberate defiance, Twitter seeks to undermine India’s legal system. Furthermore, 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.”
According to the statement, Twitter’s statement is hollow and completely self-serving.
“Twitter has a large user base in India, it earns significant revenue from its Indian operations but is also the most reluctant to appoint an India-based grievance redressal officer and mechanism, chief compliance officer and nodal officer to whom its own users can complain, when they are subjected to offensive Tweets,” the letter read.
Twitter has 1.5 crore users in the country, and it is expanding its operations in India. It recently appointed Apurva Dalal as director of engineering in India and is hiring more engineers here.
According to the government, “Twitter needs to stop beating around the bush” and comply with the new rules since “Twitter is just a social media platform and it has no locus in dictating what should India’s legal policy framework should be,” the letter read.