The Indian government today emphatically refuted Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey's allegations of receiving "many requests" from India to censor accounts critical of the government and those reporting on farmers' protests, as well as threats of shutting down the platform.
In a tweet, Union IT Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar blasted the comment as an "outright lie by Jack Dorsey, perhaps an attempt to brush out a dubious period of Twitter's history".
During an interview on YouTube channel Breaking Points yesterday, Dorsey was asked if he had faced any pressure from foreign governments.
He replied: "India, for example. India is one of the countries which had many requests around farmers protests, around particular journalists which were critical of the government, and it manifested in ways such as 'we will shut Twitter down in India'... 'we would raid the homes of your employees', which they did; 'we will shut down your offices if you don't follow suit'. And this is India, a democratic country."
Dorsey, who quit as Twitter CEO in 2021, also cited governments in Turkey and Nigeria, which had restricted the platform in their nations at different points over the years before lifting the bans. Turkey, he said, acted "similarly" (like India).
His comments were shared by many Congressad Opposition leaders in India.
Chandasekhar hit back, saying that on Dorsey’s watch, Twitter was in "repeated and continuous violation of Indian law" and that the "Dorsey Twitter regime had a problem accepting the sovereignty of Indian law".
"As a matter of fact they were in non-compliance with law repeatedly from 2020 to 2022 and it was only June 2022 when they finally complied. No one went to jail nor was Twitter 'shutdown'," he wrote.
"Dorsey's Twitter regime had a problem accepting the sovereignty of Indian law. It behaved as if the laws of India did not apply to it. India as a sovereign nation has the right to ensure that its laws are followed by all companies operating in India. During the protests in January 2021, there was a lot of misinformation and even reports of genocide which were definitely fake," Chandrasekhar said.
He continued: "Such was the level of partisan behaviour on Twitter under Jack regime, that they had a problem removing misinformation from the platform in India, when they did it themselves when similar events took place in the USA. To set the record straight, no one was raided or sent to jail. Our focus was only on ensuring the compliance of Indian laws".
"Twitter under Dorsey was not just violating Indian law, but was partisan in how it was using 'de-amplify' and de-platforming of some arbitrarily in violation of Article 14,19 of our constitution and also assisting in weaponising of misinformation. Our government's policies remain clear for all Intermediaries operating in India - compliance with laws to ensure Internet is Safe and Trusted, Accountable," said the minister.
The farmers ended a year of protests in November 2021 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the withdrawal of three controversial farm laws.