Amaan AhmedAugust 5, 2021 13:51:42 IST
Since the beginning of social networking, Twitter has been under intense scrutiny in recent months for a number of reasons. In June, the platform was lost its “safe harbor” immunity In India because it has not appointed statutory officials, a requirement under the government’s new IT rules. It was also subordinate heat Following incidents with the Government of India which were found to be in breach of the new rules directs Twitter to suspend its fact-checking policy. However, the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) says these guidelines had no legal basis.
Why was Twitter on fire because of its manipulated media policy?
Twitter’s manipulated media policy seeks, in its own words, to mark tweets that have been fraudulently altered or made that could ” mislead people or deceive the authenticity of the media if it could result in a threat to physical security or other serious harm. ”
In May, Twitter stamped tweets from certain political leaders as manipulated media after the emergence of an alleged “toolbox”. These included two tweets from BJP spokesman Sambit Patra. Subsequently, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) sent two letters to Twitter India calling for the suspension of its fact-finding policy under the 2000 Information Technology Act.
How did IFF get involved?
When MeitY asked Twitter to remove manipulated media tags from certain tweets, IFF contacted the Department of IT that no IT law or regulations allow such an order to be made; that there was no “statutory basis” at the request of the Ministry.
In June, IFF filed two RTI applications with the Department of IT, asking if it had actually asked Twitter to remove the manipulated media tags and, if so, under what legal provisions. According to IFF, MeitY’s reply does not mention the provision in the IT Act that this instruction was given to Twitter.
What was the response of the Ministry of IT?
MeitY shared the two letters it sent to Twitter with IFF, but not Twitter’s response to the first letter. IFF complained for the first time, pointing out that the IT Department had not identified or disclosed a legal basis for asking Twitter to drop the manipulated media tag.
Remember the “manipulated media” episode? When @GoI_MeitY sent letters to Twitter urging it to stop checking the facts?
Well, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology has now admitted that no letters have been issued under any provision of the Information Technology Act 2000. 1 / n pic.twitter.com/otzSJ6cUTC
– Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) (@internetfreedom) August 4, 2021
Now, IFF says in response to its first petition, the IT ministry has admitted that there was no “legal basis” for the two letters sent to Twitter. This, according to IFF, is vital, as the ministry’s second letter had urged Twitter to stop using manipulated media altogether.
In its statement, IFF has called on the IT Department to refrain from “exceeding its powers” and “acting beyond its legal scope”. It also appealed to Twitter to make this correspondence with the Ministry of IT publicly available for transparency.