Mon. Dec 4th, 2023
India threatened to shut down Twitter, says former CEO Jack Dorsey; IT minister refutes

The government on Tuesday strongly refuted the allegations made by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey regarding receiving “many requests” from India to censor accounts critical of the government and reporting on farmers’ protests. Information and Technology Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar criticized the comment as an “outright lie by Jack Dorsey” and an attempt to redact a “dubious period of Twitter’s history”.

In an interview on the YouTube channel ‘Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar’ on Monday, Dorsey was asked about facing pressure from foreign governments.

He mentioned India as one of the countries where there were requests concerning farmers’ protests and critical journalists. He claimed that the Indian government had threatened to shut down Twitter in the country, conduct raids on employees’ homes, and close Twitter offices if their demands were not met. “And this is India, a democratic country”, he said.

Dorsey also mentioned Turkey and Nigeria as governments that had previously restricted Twitter in their respective countries before eventually lifting the bans. He stated that Turkey acted in a similar manner to India.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Minister of State in charge of IT, said the Twitter founder’s comments were “fiction” and that the company had “weaponised misinformation” against Indians and the government.

“The government of India has consistently maintained that any platform, whether foreign or India, whether small or big, must comply with Indian laws if they are to operate in India.”

In a long post on Twitter, Rajeev Chandasekhar said on Jack Dorsey’s watch, the platform was in “repeated and continuous violation of Indian law” and that the “Dorsey Twitter regime had a problem accepting the sovereignty of Indian law”.

“As a matter of fact they were in non-compliance with law repeatedly from 2020 to 2022 and it was only June 2022 when they finally complied. No one went to jail nor was Twitter ‘shutdown’, ” he wrote.

“Dorsey’s Twitter regime had a problem accepting the sovereignty of Indian law. It behaved as if the laws of India did not apply to it. India as a sovereign nation has the right to ensure that its laws are followed by all companies operating in India. During the protests in January 2021, there was a lot of misinformation and even reports of genocide which were definitely fake,” Chandrasekhar said.

The government, he asserted, “was obligated to remove misinformation from the platform because it had the potential to further inflame the situation based on fake news”.

He continued: “Such was the level of partisan behaviour on Twitter under Jack regime, that they had a problem removing misinformation from the platform in India, when they did it themselves when similar events took place in the USA. To set the record straight, no one was raided or sent to jail. Our focus was only on ensuring the compliance of Indian laws”.

Chandrasekhar said there was “ample evidence” in the public domain about “Jack’s Twitter’s arbitrary, blatantly partisan and discriminatory conduct and misuse of its power on its platform” during that period.

“Twitter under Dorsey was not just violating Indian law, but was partisan in how it was using ‘de-amplify’ and de-platforming of some arbitrarily in violation of Article 14,19 of our constitution and also assisting in weaponising of misinformation. Our government’s policies remain clear for all Intermediaries operating in India – compliance with laws to ensure Internet is Safe and Trusted, Accountable,” said the minister.

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