In February, Twitter officials had a high-profile meeting with the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology. The company had just defied MEITY’s orders to block access to handles of some journalists and activists. After that meeting, MEITY relented, accepting a compromise where Twitter blocked access to several individual tweets and some large accounts in India. Now, the Ministry is saying it has no records of the minutes of that meeting, even though it put out a press release about the interaction. In response to an RTI application by MediaNama, the Ministry responded, “As per inputs provided by the Program Officer the information is given below: No Records are available.”
This is a curious response, as the IT Ministry put out a detailed press release after that meeting was held, outlining remarks by Ajay Prakash Sawhney, the ministry’s secretary. MediaNama has appealed the response. Twitter previously declined to elaborate on what it told the government during the meeting; MEITY, like the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, did not detail the views of Twitter in its readout of its interaction with the company, with seven of the eight paragraphs describing the meeting talking about what Sawhney told Twitter, and just one paragraph on what Twitter said.
That meeting, where Sawhney urged the company to follow Indian laws (and by extension, comply with takedown requests), was attended by Twitter VP for Global Public Policy Monique Meche and Legal VP and Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker, both US-based executives. The company’s India policy head, Mahima Kaul, had recently announced her departure from the company.
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