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Cyberthreat: Twitter Co-founder Jack Dorsey’s assertion on subscribers’ accounts unsettles industry regulators

Photo Collage of Twitter and Indian Flag

*Jack Dorsey, Co-founder of Twitter, asserts the Indian Government once pressured the Big Tech to remove the accounts of journalists, farmers, and other critics over the farmers’ protesters in India

*It is an outright lie, replies Indian Information Technology Minister

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Twitter Co-founder Jack Dorsey’s comments that the Indian Government had exerted pressure on the leading microblogging site and social media platform to remove the accounts of farmers, journalists, and other critics from the platform during protests by farmers some years back has embarrassed the Centre, and made it issue a furious denial.

ConsumerConnect learnt Dorsey’s comments on a YouTube show, stating that the Indian Government threatened to shut Twitter 2021 and raid its employees if the global technology giant failed to comply with its diktats to restrict certain accounts has raised hackles in New Delhi.

Speaking on the YouTube news show Breaking Points late night Monday, June 12, 2023, Dorsey said Twitter was threatened with closure in India unless it complied with orders to restrict the accounts of journalists and protesters during the 2021 farmers’ protests in the country.

He said: “It (threat) manifested in ways such as: ‘We will shut Twitter down in India,’ which is a very large market for us; ‘we will 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.”

It’s an outright lie -IT Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar

In reaction to Dorsey’s allegation preferred against the Indian regulators, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Information Technology (IT), claimed the former Twitter Chief Executive’s comments were an outright lie, and questioned company’s policies, ETtech report said.

Chandrasekhar also said Dorsey’s comments were an outright lie, and explained that no Twitter employees were sent to jail nor was the platform shut down over the protests.

The IT Minister declared inna tweet Tuesday morning, and stated: “This is an outright lie by Jack – perhaps an attempt to brush out that very dubious period of Twitter’s history.

“Facts and truth – Twitter under Dorsey and his team were in repeated and continuous violations of India law.”

Chandrasekhar further stated: “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.”

History of ‘bad blood’ between tech giant, Indian regulators

Twitter and the Indian Government were engaged in several rounds of legal and verbal spats between January and February 2021 after the platform refused to take down some of the content flagged by the IT ministry.

Report indicates that stance has changed somewhat after Elon Musk took over the company 2022.

Musk reportedly said that the company would comply with local laws rather than risk jail time for its employees.

In a related regulatory affair, the IT manufacturers have been asked to induct Indian equity partners in their local operations, three executives who attended meetings said.

The companies were also mandated to appoint Indian executives in key roles, such as chief executive officer, chief operating officer, chief financial officer and chief technical officer.

Besides appointing Indian contract manufacturers, increasing local manufacturing down to the component level through joint ventures with Indian businesses, expanding exports from the country and having local distributors, avoiding tax evasion and ensuring legal compliance, are some of the other requirements, according to report.

The Enforcement Directorate, June 10, 2023, in India, had issued show-cause notices under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) to Xiaomi India, its officials and three banks — CitiBank, HSBC and Deutsche Bank AG — in a case of alleged illegal remittances made by the Chinese company worth Rs 5,551.27 crore.

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