Amid a standoff with social media giant Twitter over the new IT Rules, the central government on Thursday accused the platform of lying and said it has no “locus in dictating” India’s legal policies.
The government said Twitter “needs to stop beating around the bush and comply with the laws of the land”, instead of attempting to “dictate terms to the world’s largest democracy”.
“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,” said the Ministry of Electronics and Information and Technology in a statement.
The development comes after Twitter earlier in the day expressed concerns over the “potential threat to freedom of expression and intimidation tactics by the police”.
Delhi Police officials had visited the company’s offices in Delhi and Gurugram on Monday in connection with an ongoing probe over the “toolkit” controversy between the ruling BJP and Congress.
The social media giant also said that it will strive to comply with the law and will be strictly guided by principles of transparency.
Condemning Twitter’s statement as “baseless”, the government said it’s “an attempt to defame India to hide their own follies”.
“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,” it said.
Representatives are ‘safe in India’
The government also assured Twitter and other social media platforms that their representatives “are and will always remain safe in India and there is no threat to their personal safety and security”.
Stressing that protecting freedom of speech is the “commitment of the world’s largest democracy”, the government said it “respects the right of people to ask questions and also criticise on these social media platforms, including on Twitter”.
“The Government equally respects the right of privacy. However, 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,” it said.
Twitter is mired in a controversy after it labeled a tweet from BJPs Sambit Patra as ‘Manipulated Media’. Several BJP leaders have urged Twitter to remove the manipulated media tag from tweets of BJP leaders. The Congress, on the other hand, has said that it wants the ‘Manipulated Media’ tag on 11 union ministers’ Tweets.