Many MPs irate at the style of the functioning of Twitter in India and raised questions
Facing the ire of Parliamentarians, Twitter India on Thursday tendered a verbal apology to the joint Parliamentary committee on personal data protection over location tag in a live broadcast showing Leh and J&K as part of China. It is learned that the Members of Parliament (MP)s warned Twitter India’s representatives that seven years jail term has to face, if distort the map of India and asked the Twitter representatives to give the apology in writing. Twitter assured to submit the apology as soon as possible.
Demand a written apology
Showing strong displeasure, the panel has asked the micro-blogging site to tender a written apology and submit an affidavit in the matter. The representatives of Twitter had appeared before the committee, chaired by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi, and “begged apology” but they were told by the members that it was a criminal offence that questioned the sovereignty of the country and an affidavit must be submitted by Twitter Inc, not by its ‘marketing arm’ Twitter India, reported PTI, India’s premier news agency.
Twitter was caught for showing the wrong map of India by veteran journalist Nitin Gokhale during his visit to Leh.
“The committee was of the unanimous opinion that Twitter’s explanation on showing Ladakh as part of China was inadequate,” said Meenakshi Lekhi told media after the meeting. The Twitter representatives told the panel that the social media company respects the sensitivities of India, she said.
“But, it is not only a question of the sensitivity of India or Indians. It is a question about national integrity and sovereignty of the country, and not respecting that is a criminal offence. And displaying Indian map improperly and incorrectly is an offence of treason and attracts imprisonment of seven years,” she said, adding that Twitter was also asked about its banning policy.
“Shadowbanning, banning policy… there is no clarity about it. Such actions are very subjective…Twitter is becoming a law onto themselves and under these circumstances, they are violating Article 19 of the Constitution about the freedom of expression,” she said.
Many MPs expressed frustration at the style of the functioning of Twitter in India and also raised questions about Twitter’s transparency policy and its actions during elections, especially vis-a-vis their policies in other countries. Meenakshi Lekhi and BJD MP Bharturhari Mahatab reminded Twitter representatives that they have to adhere to Indian rules when they are doing business in India.
Senior Govt. official writes to Twitter CEO
Earlier through a strongly worded letter, Ajay Sawhney, Secretary, MeitY (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology), asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to respect the sensitivities of Indian citizens. He warned that the attempt to disrespect the sovereignty and integrity of India, which is also reflected by the maps, is totally unacceptable and unlawful. Sawhney also raised questions about Twitter’s neutrality and fairness as an intermediary.
A Twitter spokesperson said they remain committed to working with the Government of India and that they respect the sensitivities involved, duly acknowledging the letter. Twitter was caught for showing the wrong map of India by veteran journalist Nitin Gokhale during his visit to Leh. He noticed that Twitter showed his location in China and the matter became a big controversy. Reacting to Twitter India’s apology, Nitin Gokhale tweeted:
— Nitin A. Gokhale (@nitingokhale) October 29, 2020