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Twitter CEO, top officials refuse to appear before parliamentary panel on IT: Report

Twitter cited ‘short notice of the hearing’ as the reason, despite being given 10 days to travel, the sources said.

SNS | New Delhi |

Twitter’s CEO and top officials have declined to appear before the Parliamentary Committee on IT that had summoned them over the issue of safeguarding citizens’ rights on social media platforms, sources in the panel said Saturday.

Twitter cited “short notice of the hearing” as the reason, despite being given 10 days to travel, the sources said.

The Parliament’s standing committee on information technology, headed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Anurag Thakur, had summoned Twitter India along with representatives from Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) for alleged bias against “nationalist” accounts.

The meeting was scheduled for February 7 but was later postponed to February 11 to allow the Twitter CEO and senior officials more time to make themselves available.

The letter sent to Twitter by the Parliamentary IT Committee on February 1 clearly stated that “it may be noted that the Head of the Organisation has to appear before the Committee”. It further stated that “He/She may be accompanied by another representative.”

The Parliamentary IT Committee received a letter on February 7 from Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s global lead for legal, policy, trust and safety, stating, “No one who engages publicly for Twitter India makes enforcement decisions with respect to our rules for content or accounts in India.”

Deputing a junior employee to represent Twitter at the Indian Parliamentary IT Committee has not gone down well with Indian lawmakers especially since they have no decision making authority, the letter from Gadde said.

After the parliamentary panel summoned Twitter, the micro-blogging platform on Wednesday said it is in touch with the Indian government on the issue.

The issue came to light after activist-advocate Ishkaran Singh Bhandari met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on January 28 and apprised him of the alleged “discriminatory and unfair practices” by the social media giant, which he said were a “threat to national security”.

In his application, Bhandari alleged that the social media platform was suspending accounts which either support “Indic ideals or the current government”.

As India gears up for general elections, owners of global social media platforms are in a huddle over how to curb the spread of misinformation and fake news in the country.

Addressing a town-hall meeting at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi in November, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said fake news is a way too big category, adding the social network is taking “multi-variable” steps to curb the spread of misleading information ahead of 2019 general elections.

Twitter, which is growing with a positive trajectory in India, is also looking for “a unique leader” who can take the country operations to the next level.

(With agency inputs)