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'Effort to Divert Attention': Centre on Twitter Expressing Concerns on Freedom of Speech in India

Twitter in a statement on May 27, in the midst of a tussle with the government, had expressed concerns over the potential threat to freedom of expression and safety of its employees in India.

Twitter in a statement on May 27, in the midst of a tussle with the government, had expressed concerns over the potential threat to freedom of expression and safety of its employees in India.

The government said Twitter was non-compliant with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 on the day they became fully effective from May 26 this year.

The Government of India has said that Twitter’s statement expressing concerns over freedom of expression and safety of its employees in India was an effort to divert attention from its non-compliance with Indian laws at that stage.

Twitter in a statement on May 27, in the midst of a tussle with the government, had expressed concerns over the potential threat to freedom of expression and safety of its employees in India. “The statement of Twitter was possibly an effort to divert the attention from the non-compliance to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 and Indian laws at that stage,” the Minister of State for Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar said in a written reply in Parliament.

The minister said the fundamental right of speech and expression is constitutionally guaranteed and cannot be infringed by anybody. “Government is committed to the growth of a vibrant technology and Internet ecosystem in the country. Government has also assured that representatives of social media platforms including Twitter remain safe in India and there is no threat to their personal safety and security,” the Minister further said.

The government added that Twitter was non-compliant with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 on the day they became fully effective from May 26 this year. “Subsequently, they have appointed Chief Compliance Officer and a Resident Grievance Officer as a contingent arrangement and have also informed the Ministry about physical contact address in India. They have also published the compliance report of June 2021,” the Minister said.

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He said neither the IT Act nor the above said Rules contravene the Freedom of speech and expression or the Right to privacy. “The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code Rules), 2021 do not seek breaking the end-to-end encryption,” he added.

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first published:July 22, 2021, 15:02 IST