Twitter said it acknowledged receipt of the notification and had a “formal dialogue” with the Indian government.
“The safety of our employees is a top priority for us on Twitter,” the company’s spokesman told CNN Business. “We remain respected with the Government of India.” the spokesman added.
The GOI did not reply to several comments.
Who will blink first?
With more than 700 million Internet users, India is a huge and important market for global technology companies, albeit an increasingly uncertain market as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, led by Prime Minister, seeks to tighten the grip on the Internet and social media.
“Civil society’s shrinking space is reflected in censorship and anti-democratic regulatory steps that censor users from their right to free speech,” said Thenmozhi Soundararajan, executive director of the Equality Labs advocacy group. “It’s time for the world to understand how much danger there is now, and for American companies like Twitter and Facebook to act before it’s too late.”
For the time being, Twitter seems to be standing its ground against the Indian government by actively keeping the accounts.
“We will review all reports received from the government as soon as possible and take appropriate action on such reports, while ensuring that we adhere to our core values and commitment to protect the public debate,” the company spokesman said. “We believe that open and free information exchange has a positive global impact and tweets need to flow further.”
But if the government decides to make amends for its threats or exacerbate the situation, Twitter will have few good options left.
“There are two main risks: The first concerns Twitter’s Indian employees, who could be put at risk if the company doesn’t meet the demands,” said Jillian York, director of freedom of expression for the Electronic Border Foundation.
“The second risk is that Twitter will continue to reject and block in India. While this may be the right moral achievement, it is clearly not the best outcome for the people of India, many of whom receive the most important messages about relying on social media to what is happening on earth, “he added.
Threading the needle
While Twitter and the Indian government are still at a dead end, both sides also need to address external scrutiny.
“Jack has shown in the past that he can lead with his values,” Soundararajan said, referring to Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO.
“The fundamental problem is consistency … are they able to do the same contextual analysis as around QAnon, hydroxychloroquine posts, and Trump incitement?” said David Kaye, a law professor at the University of California at Irvine who was previously the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Opinion. “India is really a great example of how difficult this is.”
“I think there is still a danger that Modi in particular will seem incapable of dealing with democratic principles such as the right to peaceful assembly, the right to protest, criticism, and so on,” Kaye said. “I think it will be interesting to see that the Biden government and other governments that are friendly with India but are in a democratic camp are really encouraging the government to take a different approach here.”
– CNN Manveena Suri and Esha Mitra contributed to this report.