Parliament panel raps Twitter for showing Ladakh as part of China

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A parliamentary committee on Wednesday came down heavily on Twitter for showing Ladakh as part of China, saying it amounted to treason and an explanation must be tendered by the US-based parent of the social media platform in form of an affidavit, sources in the panel said.

Appearing before the joint committee of parliament on Data Protection Bill, chaired by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi, representatives of Twitter India “begged apology”, but they were told by the members that it was a criminal offence that questioned the sovereignty of the country and an affidavit must be submitted by Twitter Inc, not by its ‘marketing arm’ Twitter India, sources added.

They were questioned for more than two hours by the panel members, mainly on Ladakh being shown as part of China on the Twitter app.

“The committee was of the unanimous opinion that Twitter’s explanation on showing Ladakh as part of China was inadequate,” Lekhi told PTI after the meeting.

The Twitter representatives told the panel that the social media company respects the sensitivities of India, she said.

“But, it is not only a question of the sensitivity of India or Indians. It is a question about national integrity and sovereignty of the country, and not respecting that is a criminal offence. And displaying Indian map improperly and incorrectly is an offence of treason and attracts imprisonment of seven years,” she said.

Lekhi said Twitter was also asked about its banning policy.

“Shadow banning, banning policy… there is no clarity about it. Such actions are very subjective… Twitter is becoming a law onto themselves and under these circumstances, they are violating Article 19 of the Constitution about the freedom of expression,” she said.

Sources said some members also raised questions about Twitter’s transparency policy and its actions during elections, especially vis-a-vis their policies in other countries.

Asked for their comments, a Twitter spokesperson said in an emailed statement, “The recent geotagging issue was swiftly resolved by our teams. We are committed to openness, transparency around our work and will remain in regular touch with the Government to share timely updates.” Multiple sources in the panel said Twitter officials “begged apology” for Ladakh being shown as part of China on its app, but they were told by members that whatever they wanted to say on the issue should be given in writing in form of an affidavit by Twitter Inc, the parent company of the social media platform.