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Prepared to work with Parliamentary panel on safeguarding citizens' rights online: Twitter

Panel members had objected to Twitter's view that it abided by its own policy

twitter-logo-mobile-social-media-representational-reuters Representational image | Reuters

Twitter on Friday said it "stands prepared" to work with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT on safeguarding citizens' rights online, even as the panel categorically told the microblogging platform that rule of the land is supreme and not the company's policies. 

Twitter India's public policy manager Shagufta Kamran and legal counsel Ayushi Kapoor deposed before the Parliamentary panel on Friday, amid an ongoing tussle between the Union government and the company over the new IT rules. 

During the meeting, panel members strongly objected to Twitter India officials' observations that they abide by their policy and categorically told them that the rule of land is supreme. 

In a statement, a Twitter spokesperson said: "We appreciate the opportunity to share our views before the Standing Committee on Information Technology. Twitter stands prepared to work with the Committee on the important work of safeguarding citizens' rights online, in line with our principles of transparency, freedom of expression, and privacy." 

The spokesperson added that the company will also continue working alongside the Indian government as part of its shared commitment to serve and protect the public conversation. 

According to sources, members of the Parliamentary panel also asked Twitter why it should not be fined as it has been found "violating" rules of the country. 

Earlier this month, the Centre had issued a notice to Twitter giving it one last chance to "immediately" comply with the new IT rules and warned that failure to adhere to the norms will lead to the platform losing exemption from liability under the IT Act. 

The government, earlier this week, slammed Twitter for deliberate defiance and failure to comply with the IT rules, which has led to the US giant losing its intermediary status in India and becoming liable for users posting any unlawful content. 

Twitter has allegedly not fully complied with the new rules, called Intermediary Guidelines, that mandate setting up grievance redressal mechanism and appointing officers to coordinate with law enforcement. 

The rules became effective from May 26 and Twitter, even after the expiry of the additional time, had not appointed the requisite officers, leading to it losing the 'safe harbour' immunity. 

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT, chaired by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, had summoned Twitter officials over issues related to misuse of the platform and protection of citizens' rights. 

On Friday, members of the panel asked some tough and searching questions to Twitter India officials but their answers lacked clarity and were ambiguous, sources said. 

The members strongly objected to the observation of Twitter India officials that its policy is on par with the rule of land and categorically told them "rule of land is supreme, not your policy", sources said. 

Twitter and the government have been at loggerheads over multiple instances in the past months, including during the farmers' protest and later when the microblogging platform tagged political posts of several leaders of the ruling party BJP as "manipulated media", triggering a sharp rebuke from the Centre. 


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