Twitter urges Indian government to respect free speech | Your money
NEW DELHI (AP) – Twitter on Thursday expressed concern for the safety of its staff in India and called on the government to respect free speech, days after Indian police visited its office in New Delhi to tagged a tweet by a ruling party spokesperson as “manipulated media.”
Twitter has been embroiled in a tense battle with the Indian government, which has often asked it to restrict content alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration is trying to silence criticism, including over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Twitter said it was “concerned about the use of intimidating tactics by the police” and “the potential threat to the free speech of those we serve.”
Indian police attended Twitter’s New Delhi office on Monday to serve a notice directing it to answer questions about its labeling of the tweet as manipulated.
“It appears that Twitter has information that we are not aware of on the basis of which they classified it as such,” police said in a statement.
On Wednesday, the WhatsApp messaging app filed a lawsuit in Delhi’s High Court, claiming that new government rules that require it to make messages ‘traceable’ to external parties are unconstitutional and infringe fundamental rights to privacy.
WhatsApp currently uses end-to-end encryption for its messaging service, which encrypts messages in such a way that no one other than the sender and recipient can read messages sent to each other.
Radical new regulations for tech companies were announced in February, making them more responsible for the content shared on their platforms. A 90-day grace period for complying with the rules ended on Wednesday.
Leaders of Modi’s party last week tweeted parts of a document they said was created by the main opposition party in Congress to cast a bad light on the government in its handling of the pandemic. Some congressional leaders complained to Twitter, saying the document had been tampered with. In response, Twitter marked some posts as “manipulated media”.
Under Twitter’s rules, it applies “manipulated media” tags to posts that have been “falsely altered or fabricated”.
Twitter said in its statement on Thursday that “in order to keep our service available, we will endeavor to comply with applicable law in India.”
“But, just as we do around the world, we will continue to be strictly guided by principles of transparency, a commitment to empower all voices in the service, and to protect freedom of expression and privacy.” within the framework of the rule of law ”, he declared.
Critics accuse Modi’s government of silencing critics on social media, especially Twitter, an accusation that senior ruling party leaders have denied.
New social media regulations give the government more power to control online content. They need Internet platforms like Facebook and Twitter to erase content that authorities deem illegal and to facilitate police investigations, including identifying the perpetrators of “malicious information”.
Social media sites, including Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, have had three months to comply.
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