India’s Twitter woes escalate as police summon chief over viral video
By Saurabh Sharma and Sankalp Phartiyal
LUCK, India – Indian police have summoned the top Twitter official in the country to respond to allegations that the American company failed to prevent the release of a video that incited “hatred and enmity” between the Hindu and Muslim communities.
An official police notice, viewed by Reuters, showed that a case had been recorded in Ghaziabad, in northern Uttar Pradesh state, of a video of a few men, apparently Hindus, beating an elderly man suspected of being a Muslim and cutting his beard.
The police report names Twitter Inc, its local unit and seven others for their alleged roles in spreading a video deemed insulting religious beliefs and causing public harm in a state with a long and bloody history of community violence.
The controversy comes just as India’s federal government clashes with Twitter over breaking new IT rules, raising doubts that the platform would continue to enjoy legal liability protection for content. generated by users. The new rules came into effect at the end of May.
In a notice dated Thursday, police in Ghaziabad wrote to Twitter India official Manish Maheshwari to appear before authorities within seven days of receiving the summons.
“Some people have used their Twitter credentials to spread hatred and enmity in society and Twitter has not taken notice of them,” said the notice, which was reviewed by Reuters.
“Writings and works that encouraged enmity and affected harmony between different communities across the country and state were encouraged and such anti-society messages were allowed to go viral. “
Twitter declined to comment and Maheshwari did not respond to a request for comment.
IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad went wild on Twitter this week over the Ghaziabad incident, saying his failure to act was “confusing.”
Prasad said Twitter failed to comply with a new set of government rules that required them to appoint new compliance officers by May 26.
The rules state that in the event of non-compliance, the protection enjoyed by companies related to any liability against user-generated content “will not apply” and companies “will be subject to sanctions under any law.”
“At the time Twitter did not file a complaint, safe harbor protection was automatically unavailable,” said Shlok Chandra, a New Delhi-based lawyer who represents the federal government in various cases. “The position is very clear.
Some free speech activists and lawyers, however, disagree.
“The central government has neither the power to grant nor the power to ‘take away’ the disclaimer … Determining whether Twitter has the right to claim the disclaimer is a matter of the courts, ”Delhi-based law firm Ira said in a LinkedIn article this month.
Last week, three special rapporteurs appointed by a senior United Nations human rights body urged India to review the new IT rules, saying their expanded scope was not in line with international human rights standards. human and could threaten digital rights.
To comply with India’s new IT rules, companies like Twitter had to appoint a compliance officer, a nodal manager and a resident grievance manager. But job postings on LinkedIn show that all three positions were currently open on Twitter.
The social media giant, however, has retained an interim compliance officer, he said this week, adding that he is doing everything he can to comply with the new IT rules.