Home Current Affairs Twitter India public policy director Mahima Kaul resigned

Twitter India public policy director Mahima Kaul resigned

Twitter’s India public policy director Mahima Kaul resigned as Twitter faced backlashes from the India government. Twitter Inc’s refused to comply with the Indian government’s directive to block more than 250 accounts and posts.

Amid the boiling political issues around Twitter activities in India, Twitter’s India public policy director Mahima Kaul resigned from her role recently.

Sources also said a LinkedIn ad showed the company is seeking candidates for the key government relations position.

Image: YouTube

Mahima Kaul resigned

Government officials, business people and ordinary netizens are split over free speech and the US Company’s compliance practices after Twitter Inc’s refusal to comply with Indian government’s directive to block more than 250 accounts and posts, that comes soon after Twitter’s top lobbyist in India resigned.

Image: Twitter

Twitter confirms the resignation

Kaul did not respond to a request for comments, said sources. Twitter confirmed Kaul’s resignation, saying she would stay on through March and was helping with the transition, but otherwise declined to comment. It said this week that it withholds access to content on receiving a “properly scoped request from an authorized entity”.

Image: Facebook

Mahima Kaul resigned: Indian Government vs US based social media platforms

Last Monday, February 1, Twitter blocked dozens of accounts in India after the country’s Home Affairs Ministry complained that users were posting content aimed at inciting violence.

As the prolonged crisis escalated, the government sought an “emergency blocking” of the “provocative” Twitter hashtag “#ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide” and dozens of accounts.

But after the US-based firm “declined to abide (by) and obey” the order to remove posts and accounts the relationships between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration and US social media platforms have worsened.

MP Meenakshi Lekhi, who heads a parliamentary panel on data privacy, criticised Twitter for disobeying government orders, adding she has yet to decide whether to summon company executives.

“Twitter needs to understand they are not lawmakers,” Lekhi told Reuters. “It is not their policy which will work, it is the policy of the state, country which will work.”

For Twitter, the stakes are high in a country of 1.3 billion where it has millions of users and is used by the Prime Minister, his cabinet ministers and other leaders to communicate with the public. The firm looks at a loss of a major market in South Asia if it doesn’t trade wisely. Twitter initially complied but later restored most of the accounts, citing “insufficient justification” to continue the suspensions.

Farmer’s protests and the question on free speech

In the backdrop of this rife political controversy in the new mode of social media is the Delhi Farmers protest.

 Farmers are conducting a growing protest against new agriculture laws, with tens of thousands camping out on the outskirts of New Delhi and also launched a nationwide road blockade last Saturday.

Free speech activists said that the government should not attempt to use legal provisions to muzzle freedom of expression, while others argue Twitter should comply or go to court.

 “Twitter is playing with fire,” said an Indian social media executive who was surprised by the company’s non-compliance. “If there is a legal request, you are required to take down content. You are free to challenge it in court.”

Calling the showdown “inevitable”, The Hindu newspaper said in a Friday editorial: “Provocative posts have no place on any platform, (but) free speech should not be hit.”

Prasanth Sugathan of Software Freedom Law Center India, said: “The selective government approach to ask social media companies to ban content when it doesn’t suit the official narrative is problematic. It stifles free speech and press freedom.”

Also Read: Forest officer from Odisha Sasmita Lenka receives UN Award

Written by: Aankur Pradhan


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