On Twitter-India row, US says committed to supporting democratic values
A day after the government held a meeting Twitter officials over its request to block multiple handles that were spreading ‘misinformation’ about the farmers’ stir on the microblogging site, the United States on Wednesday said it is committed to backing democratic values across the world.
"What I would say generally, is that around the world, we are committed to supporting democratic values including freedom of expression. I think when it comes to Twitter's policies we would have to refer you to Twitter itself," US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The remarks come in the backdrop of the tussle between the government and Twitter over blocking of over 250 accounts. The government is believed to have handed over a list of 1,300 URLs (for accounts as well as posts) in its two orders following the violence in the national capital during the farmers’ tractor rally on Republic Day.
On Wednesday, Twitter published a blog post explaining its move to not block some of the handles. The social media firm said, “...we do not believe that the actions we have been directed to take are consistent with Indian law,” adding, that keeping with their “principles of defending protected speech and freedom of expression” they have not taken any action on accounts that consist of news media entities, journalists, activists, and politicians. “To do so, we believe, would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law,” the blog read.
Soon after the blog was published, the ministry of information and technology took to domestic social media platform Koo, which is becoming popular by the day, to express its disappointment over the “unusual” blog as it came hours before the two partes were to meet over the issue.
Later in the day, representatives of the ministry and Twitter’s global policy and safety teams met where the Meity “secretary expressed his deep disappointment” about Twitter’s response. “In India, its Constitution and laws are supreme. It is expected that responsible entities not only reaffirm but remain committed to compliance to the law of land,” the ministry said in a statement after the meeting.
Twitter said that it was seeking legal option. “We will continue to advocate for the right of free expression on behalf of the people we serve. We are exploring options under Indian law — both for Twitter and for the accounts that have been impacted,” it said.