Parliamentary Committee Hints at Action Against Twitter for not Appearing Before Committee

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Parliamentary Committee on Information technology, which is headed by Anurag Thakur, hinted on Monday that it will initiate a breach of privilege action against Twitter and its peers after the social media platform declined to appear before the committee.

“Of course it can be an issue of breach of parliamentary privilege. They are taking advantage of the world’s biggest market and are unwilling to answer,” Thakur told media.

He said the reply from Twitter has been taken seriously by the committee, and the committee “will take a serious note of it”.

“It is a very serious subject, and the kind of reply they have given will be discussed in the parliamentary committee, and we will take further action on that,” he said.

BJP national spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi also warned Twitter of “repercussions” earlier that day, saying no agency n any country has the right to disrespect its institutions.

“In this situation, if Twitter is disrespecting the established institution of Parliament, then there are repercussions,” she said at a press conference.

“There are repercussions because, in any democratic country, institutions need to be respected by the world powers,” Lekhi said.

“If there is any violation of any sort, then there are repercussions to those violations…The institutions need to be respected,” she added.

The BJP leader’s remark came after Twitter officials, including CEO Jack Dorsey, declined to be present before a parliamentary committee on Monday citing “short notice” period.

The panel is deliberating to safeguard citizen’s rights on social media platforms.

Earlier in the day, a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement said: “Given the short notice of the hearing, we informed the committee that it would not be possible for senior officials from Twitter to travel from the United States to appear on Monday.”

The Twitter officials were earlier asked to appear before the panel on February 11 for alleged bias against accounts with certain ideologies on the platform.

However, Twitter’s letter failed to make an impression on the panel members and is perceived as “lack of seriousness”.

“We have suggested that we work with the Lok Sabha Secretariat to find mutually agreed dates for this meeting so that a senior Twitter official can attend,” the Twitter spokesperson said.

“We have also offered representatives from Twitter India to come and answer questions on Monday. We await feedback from the government on these matters,” said the statement.

The parliamentary committee on information technology, headed by Varun Thakur, had issued out a letter on February 1 summoning Twitter officials. The letter had said that the head of the organization has to appear before the panel and may be accompanied by another representative.

The parliamentary panel, consisting of 31 members, had also summoned representatives from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. The meeting will go ahead as scheduled, sources said.

“We want to reiterate that we not only have deep respect for India’s parliamentary process and we are also committed to serving the people who use Twitter in the Indian market,” the statement by the microblogging site added.

Twitter put out a blog post in which the company says that employees in India are not the ones making enforcement decisions with regards to its policies. The social media giant also refuted the claims that it was biased against accounts with a certain political ideology.

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