New Delhi: Amid the controversy over the new IT rules and the government seeking a response from Twitter, Facebook, and Whatsapp about failing to comply with the new rules, Twitter on Thursday said it was worried about the safety of its staff in India.
The statement by Twitter comes days after police visited its office as part of a probe related to the social media firm’s tagging of certain posts as manipulated.
Also Read|Facebook, WhatsApp And Twitter To Be Banned In India? Here’s What The New IT Rules Indicate
“Concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India & potential threat to freedom of expression for people we serve. We’ve concerns with regards to intimidation police’s tactics in response to enforcement of global Terms of Service &c ore elements of new IT Rules”, said Twitter as quoted by ANI.
Without directly referring to the Delhi police action, Twitter said: “we, alongside many in civil society in India and around the world, have concerns with regards to the use of intimidation tactics by the police in response to enforcement of our global Terms of Service.”
This is also Twitter’s first official response regarding the new IT rules which were announced on February 25 and the social media intermediaries operating in India were given three months’ time to comply.
The Twitter spokesperson further said, “We urge the Ministry of Electronics & IT to publish these Standard Operating Protocols on procedural aspects of compliance for public consultation. We would request the Ministry to consider a minimum of 3 months extension in order for Twitter to implement the Rules.”
Delhi police visit Twitter offices over ‘toolkit case’
On May 18, BJP leader Sambit Patra tweeted an alleged ‘ Congress Toolkit’ claiming that the opposition party is using it to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
However, Congress termed the BJP’s spokesperson’s tweet as fake and AICC research department head Rajeev Gowda and social media department head Rohan Gupta filed a complaint with the Delhi Police against BJP leaders, accusing them of “forging the letterhead of AICC Research Department and thereafter printing false and fabricated content on the same… with the intent to create communal disharmony and civil unrest in the country… escalating violence, fuelling hate and spreading fake news”.
After which Twitter tagged some of the posts on this alleged Congress ‘toolkit’ as “manipulated media”, including that of Patra, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) wrote to the social media platform objecting to it.
The Delhi police on Monday visited the Twitter office to serve a notice to Twitter’s India head for tagging a tweet of BJP spokesperson as “manipulated media”.
Twitter issued a statement that it is concerned for the “safety of its employees in India”.
Twitter also said that it will continue dialogue with India, “We plan to advocate for changes to elements of these regulations that inhibit free, open public conversation. We will continue our constructive dialogue with the Indian Government and believe it is critical to adopt a collaborative approach.”
Govt’s response over the privacy issue raised by Whatsapp
After Whatsapp raised the issue of privacy over the new rules by the MeitY, stating that it would force us to break end-to-end encryption on their messaging service and infringe upon the fundamental right to privacy and free speech of hundreds of millions of citizens using, the government has clarified its stand.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said ”The government fully recognises and respects the right of privacy. Ordinary users of WhatsApp have nothing to fear about the new Rules. Its entire objective is to find out who started the message that led to the commissioning of specific crimes mentioned in the Rules.
“The obligation to reveal the first originator of an offensive message already in circulation relates only to offenses relating to sovereignty, integrity & security of India, public order, rape, child sexual abuse. That too when other less intrusive measures are not effective”
Ravi Shankar Prasad also said that the new rules will keep a check on fake news and abuse on social media. Prasad said, “The new Rules are only designed to prevent abuse and misuse of social media. Government welcomes criticism including the right to ask questions. The Rules only empower ordinary users of social media when they become victims of abuse and misuse.”