Saturday, June 19, 2021

Twitter concerned by cops’ ‘intimidating tactics’ at Indian office

Indian police visited Twitter headquarters to serve a notice to its country head of an official probe into its tagging of a tweet by a ruling party spokesman as 'manipulated media'.

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Twitter said on Thursday it is worried about the safety of its staff in India, just days after police visited its Delhi office.

The police visit was part of an investigation into the social media giant’s tagging of some ruling party posts as “manipulated”, reports Reuters.

Indian police on Monday visited Twitter headquarters to serve notice to its country head of an official probe into its tagging of a tweet by a ruling party spokesman as “manipulated media”.

Without directly referring to the Delhi police action, Twitter said: “We, alongside many in civil society in India and around the world, have concerns with regards to the use of intimidation tactics by the police in response to enforcement of our global terms of service.”

Leaders of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) recently shared on Twitter parts of a document which they said was created by the main opposition Congress party and which highlighted government failures in handling the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Congress party complained to Twitter saying the document was fake, after which Twitter marked some of the posts as “manipulated media”.

Twitter has been battling the Indian government since February, after the technology ministry asked it to block content which alleges Modi’s administration was trying to silence criticism related to the long-running farmers’ protests in the country.

Following that tussle, India announced new IT rules to make social media firms more accountable to legal government requests for swift removal of posts.

Today, Twitter urged the technology ministry to give it three more months to comply with the new content regulation rules, which include the appointment of an Indian grievance and compliance officers.

Twitter said it was very concerned the rules would make compliance officers criminally liable for content on the platform, adding the move represented a dangerous overreach.

The new IT rules have sparked legal battles, including a lawsuit filed by Facebook-owned WhatsApp this week which calls out India’s government for exceeding its legal powers by enacting rules that will force the messaging app to break end-to-end message encryption.

WhatsApp said rules that require tracing the origin of chats were the equivalent of keeping a “fingerprint of every single message sent on the service”.

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