Technology minister says social media giant deliberately defied and failed to comply with new laws implemented in May.
A Hindu group has filed a complaint with police against Twitter’s country head for showing regions outside a map of India on its website, kickstarting an investigation in a fresh headache for the United States-based social media firm.
A map on Twitter’s careers page showed the Indian-administered Kashmir region, including the Himalayan enclave of Ladakh, outside India. The disputed region is claimed by both India and Pakistan.
That provoked an outcry on social media this week that comes amid strained relations between Twitter and New Delhi over the firm’s compliance with India’s new IT rules.
The complaint accuses Twitter’s India boss Manish Maheshwari and another company executive of breaching the country’s IT rules as well as laws designed to prevent enmity and hatred between classes.
“This has hurt my sentiments and those of the people of India,” Praveen Bhati, a leader of the far-right group Bajrang Dal in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, said in the police complaint. He also called it an act of treason.
Twitter removes distorted map of India from its website, after backlash
— ANI Digital (@ani_digital) June 28, 2021
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment. As of Tuesday, the map was no longer visible on its site.
Maheshwari was earlier this month summoned by the police in Uttar Pradesh for failing to stop the spread of a video that allegedly incited religious discord. Maheshwari has won relief from a court in that case.
India’s Information and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has accused the social media company of not abiding by Indian rules and denying him access to his Twitter account.
To comply with rules that came into effect in May, companies such as Twitter must appoint a chief compliance officer, a grievance officer and another executive who will liaise with law enforcement and the government on legal requests.
LinkedIn job postings show the three positions are open at Twitter.
A senior government official has previously told Reuters news agency that Twitter may no longer be eligible to seek liability exemptions as an intermediary or the host of user content in India due to its failure to comply with the new IT rules.
Activists, however, say it is a matter for the courts to decide.
Last year, the head of an Indian parliamentary panel accused Twitter of disrespecting New Delhi’s sovereignty, after mapping data showed Indian-ruled territory as part of China in what the social media firm said was a quickly resolved mistake.
Growing tension with New Delhi has discouraged US big tech firms about prospects for their largest growth market, so much so that some are rethinking expansion plans.