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Twitter apologises to Meenakshi Lekhi-led committee for incorrectly geo-tagging Ladakh: Reports

Twitter has tendered a written apology to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Personal Data Protection Bill for incorrectly geo-tagging Ladakh in China, the Committee’s Chairperson Meenakshi Lekhi said on November 18, PTI reported. In the signed affidavit, Twitter’s Chief Privacy Officer Damien Karien has reportedly promised to correct the error by November 20.

The issue arose on October 19 when Nitin Gokhale, a journalist and security analyst, went live on Twitter from Leh. However, Twitter showed his location as “Jammu and Kashmir, People’s Republic of China” instead of the Union Territory of Ladakh, the region’s current classification post the abrogation of Article 270 in August 2019. Gokhale later tweeted that Twitter had acknowledged its mistake and had resolved it after investigation.

This prompted a strongly worded letter from the secretary of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY), Ajay Prakash Sawhney, who reportedly expressed “strong disapproval” and warned the microblogging platform for “disrespect[ing] the country’s sovereignty”. BJP MP Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, a member of the JPC, also tweeted his disapproval over Twitter’s actions.

Things came to a head for Twitter when it deposed before the JPC on October 28. Members of the JPC had reportedly castigated Twitter India for the mistake and sought an affidavit from its parent company since they found Twitter India’s explanations “unsatisfactory and inadequate”. Lekhi, as per PTI, had said that the JPC was unanimous in its dissatisfaction with the company’s explanation that it was a technical glitch.

According to PTI, even in the affidavit, Twitter has attributed the issue to a “software error combined with imperfect data resulting in an incorrect geo-tag”. The company, as per the reported affidavit, is also reviewing its geo-tags for cities in Ladakh and in Jammu and Kashmir.

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The Committee had reportedly grilled the platform representatives for over two hours over the Ladakh issue and its “shadow banning” policy during its October 28 deposition. Questions around fake news, paid news and the platform’s strategy during elections, were also raised.

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