Twitter urges Indian government to respect freedom of expression

Twitter on Thursday mentioned it’s frightened concerning the security of its workers in India and known as for the government to respect freedom of expression, days after Indian police visited its workplace in New Delhi over its labeling of a tweet by a governing celebration spokesman as “manipulated media.”

Twitter has been concerned in a tense battle with the Indian government, which has typically requested it to prohibit content material alleging Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration is attempting to silence criticism, together with of its dealing with of the coronavirus pandemic.

Twitter mentioned it has “concerns with regards to the use of intimidation tactics by the police” and “the potential threat to freedom of expression for the people we serve.”

India’s IT ministry known as Twitter’s assertion “totally baseless, false and an attempt to defame India.” It mentioned Twitter ought to “comply with the laws of the land” as a substitute of “dictating what India’s legal policy framework should be.”

The ministry additionally mentioned representatives of social media corporations together with Twitter “are and will always remain safe in India.”

On Monday, Indian police visited the Twitter workplace in New Delhi to serve a discover directing it to reply questions on its tagging of the tweet as manipulated.

“It appears that Twitter has some information which is not known to us on the basis of which they have classified it as such,” police mentioned in a press release.

A Twitter emblem adorns a rickshaw outdoors a Metro station in New Delhi.
NurPhoto by way of Getty Images

On Wednesday, the messaging app WhatsApp filed a lawsuit in Delhi High Court arguing that new government guidelines that require it to make messages “traceable” to exterior events are unconstitutional and undermine the basic proper to privateness.

WhatsApp presently makes use of end-to-end encryption for its messaging service, which encrypts messages in such a approach that nobody other than the sender and receiver are in a position to learn the messages despatched between them.

Sweeping new rules for expertise corporations have been introduced in February that maintain them extra accountable for content material shared on their platforms. A 90-day grace interval for complying with the foundations ended Wednesday.

Leaders from Modi’s celebration final week tweeted parts of a doc they mentioned was created by the primary opposition Congress celebration to make the government look bad over its dealing with of the pandemic. Some Congress leaders complained to Twitter, saying the doc was cast. In response, Twitter marked some posts as “manipulated media.”

Under Twitter guidelines, it applies “manipulated media” tags to posts which were “deceptively altered or fabricated.”

Twitter mentioned in its assertion Thursday that “to keep our service available, we will strive to comply with applicable law in India.”

“But, just as we do around the world, we will continue to be strictly guided by principles of transparency, a commitment to empowering every voice on the service, and protecting freedom of expression and privacy under the rule of law,” it mentioned.

Critics accuse Modi’s government of silencing criticism on social media, significantly Twitter, a cost senior leaders of the governing celebration have denied.

The quantity of Twitter customers in India grew steadily all through the final decade.

The new social media rules give the government extra energy to police on-line content material. They require web platforms similar to Facebook and Twitter to erase content material that authorities deem to be illegal and to assist with police investigations, together with figuring out the originators of “mischievous information.”

Social media websites, together with Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, got three months to comply.

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