New Delhi: A Parliamentary Committee on Wednesday came down heavily on Twitter for showing Ladakh as part of China. The Parliamentary Committee said it amounted to treason. It said an explanation must be tendered by the US-based parent of the social media platform in form of an affidavit. This information was shared by sources here Wednesday.
Twitter India representatives appeared before the joint committee of parliament on Data Protection Bill, chaired by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi. They ‘begged apology’, but were told by the members that it was a criminal offence that questioned the sovereignty of India. The members asserted an affidavit must be submitted by Twitter Inc, not by its ‘marketing arm’ Twitter India, sources added. The Twitter representatives were questioned for more than two hours by the panel members.
“The committee was of unanimous opinion that Twitter’s explanation on showing Ladakh as part of China was inadequate,” Lekhi said.
The Twitter representatives told the panel that the social media company respects the sensitivities of India, she said. “But, it is not only a question of the sensitivity of India or Indians. It is a question about national integrity and sovereignty of India. Not respecting that is a criminal offence. And displaying Indian map improperly and incorrectly is an offence of treason and attracts imprisonment of seven years,” Lekhi added.
Lekhi said Twitter was also asked about its banning policy. “Shadow banning, banning policy… there is no clarity about it. Such actions are very subjective. Twitter is becoming a law onto themselves and under these circumstances, they are violating Article 19 of the Constitution about the freedom of expression,” asserted Lekhi.
Sources said some members also raised questions about Twitter’s transparency policy and its actions during elections.
Asked for their comments, a Twitter spokesperson said in an emailed statement, “The recent geotagging issue was swiftly resolved by our teams. We are committed to openness, transparency around our work and will remain in regular touch with the Government to share timely updates.”
Officials who deposed before the panel on behalf of Twitter India included Shagufta Kamran, senior manager, public policy; Ayushi Kapoor, legal counsel; Pallavi Walia, policy communications; and Manvinder Bali, corporate security.
Officials from the Ministry of Electronics, Information and Technology, and the Ministry of Law and Justice also deposed before the panel.
The Indian government on October 22 had warned Twitter about its location setting that showed Leh in China, saying any disrespect towards the country’s sovereignty and integrity is totally unacceptable.