Social media platforms will have to abide by Indian laws, says Govt amid fight with Twitter

at 8:02 pm
Ravi Shankar Prasad

New Delhi (NVI): Social media platforms are free to work in India but they will need to abide by the Constitution of India and laws of India, Minister of Communication and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said today, amidst a fight between the government and Twitter over the issue of freedom of expression.

“This government is led by leaders who have fought for the freedom of individual, freedom of media and independence of judiciary particularly during Emergency days,” he said in Parliament.

He said the government’s commitment to freedom of media, rights of individuals and independence of judiciary is complete and total.

“We have immense respect for social media as it has empowered the citizens but today I want to clearly state that be it Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or WhatsApp, they are free to work in India but they need to abide by the Constitution of India and laws of India,” the minister said in the Rajya Sabha.

“In the name of freedom of expression, intermediary platforms like Twitter, Facebook cannot encourage hatred, animosity, violence and porn. They can’t promote hashtags like ‘Modi massacre of farmers’ in India,” he said.

Hitting out at Twitter, Prasad alleged “double standards” in treating the Capitol Hill violence in the US and the farmers’ protest in India.

“Why is it that when police act in the US Capitol Hill, they stand in their support, but when similar police action is taken at Red Fort, they oppose it? This double standard will not work,” the minister said, adding “We have flagged the issue in the meeting with them (officials of Twitter yesterday).”

During the meeting with Twitter’s vice-president of Global Public Policy Monique Meche and deputy general counsel and vice-president, legal, Jim Baker yesterday, Information Technology Secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney flagged the issue of Twitter’s “differential treatment” with regard to the Capitol Hill incident and the Republic Day violence.

Prasad noted that ‘Digital India’ programme today is being talked about globally and lot of countries of the world are keen to work with India in the digital field of digital inclusion and digital delivery of services.

“I have a message for all of you. Come, work in India, earn money, but you will have to follow India’s laws,” Prasad said.