"Potential Threat To Freedom Of Expression": Twitter Statement After Delhi Police Visit Office

Twitter on freedom of expression, staff safety and a back-and-forth with the Indian government over new IT laws.

Tanvi Akhauri
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Twitter on freedom of expression raised concerns over a "potential threat" on Thursday after Delhi Police's visit to its offices in and around the national capital earlier this week. Amid talks with the centre over compliance with controversial IT rules, that allegedly carry the risk of a privacy breach, a statement by the microblogging service has flagged issues of staff safety.


"Right now, we are concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression for the people we serve. We, alongside many in civil society in India and around the world, have concerns with regards to the use of intimidation tactics by the police in response to enforcement of our global Terms of Service," the statement reads.

In the aftermath of senior leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) conflicting with Twitter over an alleged "Congress toolkit" and a "manipulated media" tag on Sambit Patra's claims, the Delhi Police on May 24 visited Twitter offices in the capital and Gurugram to reportedly probe the matter.

Concerns By Twitter On Freedom Of Expression And "Intimidation Tactics" By Police

"Twitter is deeply committed to the people of India. Our service has proven vital for the public conversation and a source of support for people during the pandemic. To keep our service available, we will strive to comply with applicable law in India. But, just as we do around the world, we will continue to be strictly guided by principles of transparency, a commitment to empowering every voice on the service, and protecting freedom of expression and privacy under the rule of law," the statement adds.

On May 26, new IT rules came into effect in India amid pushback for its "first originator" principles that direct intermediary platforms to trace messages. The government, saying it respects the right to privacy, claims the law is only meant for the "prevention, investigation or punishment of serious offences such as sexually explicit content."

"We will continue our constructive dialogue with the Indian Government and believe it is critical to adopt a collaborative approach. It is the collective responsibility of elected officials, industry, and civil society to safeguard the interests of the public," the Twitter statement says.

Facebook and Google, amid other social media platforms in the mix, have said they will comply with the government policy.

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