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Delhi police questions Twitter India chief in ‘toolkit’ case

Twitter and Indian laws (Photo: IANS)

Twitter India's chief was questioned by the Delhi Police last month in the case involving an alleged "Congress toolkit,” according to an ANI report.

Manish Maheshwari, Managing Director of Twitter in India, was questioned by a team of the Delhi Police Special Cell in Bengaluru on May 31.

This was a week after Delhi Police teams went to Twitter's offices in Delhi and Gurgaon to follow up on two notices in which Twitter had been asked to explain why BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra's tweet on May 18, which had screenshots of what he called a "Congress toolkit" aimed at discrediting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government's handling of Covid, were labelled "manipulated media".

The police said they went to Twitter India's offices to serve a third notice after finding the replies of the Managing Director "ambiguous".

Details of the questioning are emerging at a time when Twitter faces charges including inciting communal hate over posts on an assault on a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh's Ghaziabad on June 5.

In the case filed on Tuesday night, Twitter has been accused of not removing "misleading" content linked to the incident. The charges it faces include "intent to a riot, promoting enmity and criminal conspiracy."

US media giant Twitter is in trouble for not complying with the new Information Technology (IT) rules introduced by the government.

In a series of tweets on Wednesday, the Minister for Law & Justice, Communications, Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad flogged Twitter for having “deliberately chosen the path of non-compliance”.

“It is astounding that Twitter, which portrays itself as the flag bearer of free speech, chooses the path of deliberate defiance when it comes to the Intermediary Guidelines. Further, what is perplexing is that Twitter fails to address the grievances of users by refusing to set up process as mandated by the law of the land. Additionally, it chooses a policy of flagging manipulates media, only when it suits, its likes and dislikes,” Prasad posted.

Micro-blogging platform Twitter is in trouble for refusing to follow the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) norms while appointing executives in the roles of Resident Grievance Officer, Nodal Officer and Chief Compliance Officer.

This, according to the government, means that the protection under Section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act, accorded to Twitter for being a social media intermediary, now stands withdrawn.

In the short run, since the protection accorded to Twitter under Section 79 of the IT Act is now gone, it opens up the platform to the possibility of any and all penal action that is likely to be taken against it as a publisher of content.

This means that if someone puts out any content on Twitter that leads to some form of violence, or violates any Indian law with respect to content, not only the person that has put out the tweet will be held responsible, even Twitter will be legally liable for the content as it no longer has the protection.

The Delhi High Court had also sent Twitter over non-compliance of the new law after which the US social media giant had issued a toned statement saying the company strives to comply with new Information Technology (IT) rules applicable to digital firms in India.

“We continue to be strictly guided by principles of transparency, a commitment to empowering every voice on the service, and protecting freedom of expression and privacy under the Indian law,” the company’s statement said.

Also read: Twitter tones down defiant stand on new IT rules after High Court rap