Home / Companies / News /  Twitter declined ‘a number of orders’ from Indian government, company says

NEW DELHI: Micro-blogging giant Twitter said it has “declined a number of orders" from the Indian government, which the company didn’t agree with, and thought were in violation of Indian and international law, targeting very particular journalists or activists, etc.

"Those accounts and tweets, in many instances have remained on the platform," said Vijaya Gadde, chief legal officer at Twitter, adding that it’s a “very delicate balance to draw". She was speaking at the RightCon 2021 conference on 10 June.

"From a purely legal perspective, litigation is one tool and it’s not always the best tool, it’s a very blunt tool. If you don’t know the outcome, you can be taking some pretty big risks with your enforcement and policy," she said. “What we’re trying to do is we have the flexibility to operate in the market, and continue to enforce our rights, and the rights of the people using our service, in a way that gives us the maximum flexibility," she added.

According to Gadde, Twitter won’t “hesitate" to take the litigation route if it has to but feels there’s “room to really understand" the various positions and reach an understanding. She reiterated a point Twitter and many other companies have made about the Indian government’s policy making, saying that an open dialogue is important.

Gadde added that negotiation with governments involves “making sure that the government itself knows what it’s asking for". “In a lot of instances, you have people who might be enforcing a particular law in a particular way, but that may not be necessarily what someone more senior in the government is understanding what’s happening, or really informed about what’s happening," she said. “So, on some level it is purely an education," she said, explaining that asking questions about government orders and how they violate Twitter and a country’s rules, has resulted in many instances where governments have pulled back in particular ways.

“There is no easy path here. There is no path where we can do everything that we want without understanding government interest or civil society interests. I wish there was something easier for us to do, but I think we're also balancing, wanting to be available for the people that use our service in these markets with free expression rights, with privacy rights," she added.

Gadde’s full session at the conference is available here, for more context.

The American social media giant has been at loggerheads with the Indian government recently, about its new Intermediary Rules for Internet platforms. The government has sent multiple notices to Twitter and threatened to revoke the intermediary protection offered by Section 79 of India’s IT Act, which protects platforms for being sued for acts by its users.

While Twitter has said it aims to comply with the IT rules, the deadline for it ended on 26 May. “Twitter has been and remains deeply committed to India, and serving the vital public conversation taking place on the service. We have assured the Government of India that Twitter is making every effort to comply with the new Guidelines, and an overview on our progress has been duly shared. We will continue our constructive dialogue with the Indian Government," the company said in a statement today. It is also facing a lawsuit in the Delhi high court on the matter.


Prasid Banerjee

An engineering dropout, Prasid Banerjee has reported on technology in India for various publications. He reports on technology through text and audio, focusing on its core aspects, like consumer impact, policy and the future.
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