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Standing Committee on Information Technology summons Twitter over ‘safeguarding citizen rights’

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The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Technology has asked Twitter to appear before them on June 18 on the subject of ‘safeguarding citizen rights’ and misuse of social media/news platforms. Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology officials will also be present in the meeting to provide ‘evidence’ after Twitter’s representation.

According to the schedule of committee meetings, available on the Lok Sabha website, the meeting was being held “To hear the views of representatives of Twitter followed by evidence of representatives of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on the subject of safeguarding citizens rights and prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms including special emphasis on women security in digital space.”

The meeting will be held in the Main Committee Room of the Parliament House Annexe at 4 pm. MediaNama has reached out to Twitter for queries regarding the matter and the story will be updated when we receive a response.

These developments come in the backdrop of a long standoff between the Indian government and Twitter regarding the implementation of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021. Last week, the Indian government sent Twitter a “last notice” urging it to immediately comply with the rules and warned that failure to do so would lead the platform to lose exemption from liability under the IT Act.

In the letter, India had said —

  • Twitter has not informed about the details of the Chief Compliance Officer as required under the Rules
  • Resident Grievance Officer and Nodal Contact Person nominated by Twitter Inc is not an employee of the platform
  • The office address of Twitter Inc is of a law firm in India

On May 26, when the new Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 came into force, it was speculated that significant social media intermediaries (SSMIs) who do not comply with the rules will be banned in India. Twitter had raised concerns regarding the appointment of a chief compliance officer, and the demand for proactive monitoring as prescribed under the new rules.

Twitter also embroiled in a tussle with the Delhi Police

On the other hand, Delhi police served a notice and visited two offices of Twitter in connection with an alleged Indian National Congress-created toolkit. Twitter had labelled tweets of BJP politicians including spokesperson Sambit Patra and others on the alleged toolkit prepared by Congress as “manipulated media”.

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The tweets alleged that Congress had created this toolkit to defame the Prime Minister and ‘undermine’ the government’s Covid-19 vaccination policy. Soon after Delhi Police sent a notice to Twitter seeking clarification on the usage of the term “manipulated media” since the matter was under investigation.

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