The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology on Friday told Twitter that the law of the land is supreme, not its policy.
It also asked the micro-blogging site why it should not be fined for violating the rules.
The 31-member Parliamentary Standing Committee, comprising of 21 Lok Sabha members and 10 Rajya Sabha members and headed by Congress’ Shashi Tharoor, had summoned Twitter over issues related to misuse of its platform.
Sources said that Twitter India’s public policy manager Shagufta Kamran and legal counsel Ayushi Kapoor had deposed before the panel, and Committee members questioned its policy to appoint fact-checkers, asking what is their credibility.
“Ruling party members claimed that most of Twitter India fact-checkers are openly opposed to the Narendra Modi regime. With a biased view, how do they do unbiased fact-checking,” a source said.
A BJP member in the committee said that while Twitter was quick to label party spokesperson Sambit Patra’s tweet as “manipulated media”, it did nothing about the recent Ghaziabad incident or during Delhi riots, as per the source.
“Twitter did not respond to the member’s charges,” the source said.
Members of the Committee took strong objection to the Twitter India representative’s observation that its policy is on par with the rules.
“The Committee categorically told Twitter the law of land is supreme, not your policy. All members including from opposition parties spoke in one voice against Twitter. Even Mohua Moitra of Trinamool Congress questioned Twitter on why it didn’t follow rules. Members asked why it should be fined for violating land of law,” the source said.
It is learned that Twitter blamed the pandemic for the delay in the adoption of the IT Intermediary rules at which members asked when all the other social media platforms could follow these, why couldn’t Twitter.
In a statement, the Twitter spokesperson said: “We appreciate the opportunity to share our views before the Standing Committee on Information Technology. Twitter stands prepared to work with the Committee on the important work of safeguarding citizens’ rights online in line with our principles of transparency, freedom of expression, and privacy.
“We will also continue working alongside the Indian Government as part of our shared commitment to serve and protect the public conversation.”
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Technology had asked Twitter to appear before it on June 18 to present its views on the prevention of misuse of its platform.
The Committee was supposed to hear the views of representatives of Twitter followed by evidence from representatives of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on the subject ‘Safeguarding citizens’ rights and prevention of misuse of social or online news media platforms’.