We cannot totally brush aside Mr Dorsey’s claims as “just another statement” by a multinational corporation.
The claim of Jack Dorsey, the co-founder and former chief executive officer of Twitter, that the Union government threatened to shut down the micro-blogging platform unless it complied with orders to restrict accounts during the agitation of the farmers against the three agriculture laws, seems a bit stretched.
It is ironic that the current Twitter management under Elon Musk has argued that, under Mr Dorsey, the micro-blogging app had become a cabal of a group of self-righteous, censoring woke. It can also not be an argument by any corporation, Indian or multinational, that they are being denied their rights, or being arm-twisted to silence democratically empowered dissent of citizens, just because they are being asked to comply with laws.
At the same time, more than owing to the credibility of the source, given India’s stake on the global platform as a mother of democracy, as a leading nation, we cannot totally brush aside Mr Dorsey’s claims as “just another statement” by a multinational corporation.
Even the process of answering the seemingly outrageous accusations must not be laced with a perception of hubris. Nor should the government dismiss concerns of citizens that they are faced with a fait accompli. The government cannot give itself a clean chit with alacrity after arguing its own case before itself. Popular protests and their reportage are a critical component of a democratic structure and attempts of all kinds by any government to restrict either is a symbol of the state’s agencies acting beyond their brief.
When the government buttresses its argument saying Twitter under Mr Dorsey had a problem accepting the sovereignty of Indian law, it also has the responsibility to specifically point out which law the company wanted to circumvent, and specific legal actions taken against this. It comes out as a strawman argument to link it to so-called current internal issues of the company alone. The minister’s argument that no one from Twitter went to jail nor was it shut down alone cannot mean complete acquittal.
The government is within its right to enforce the law of the land and punish those who break it. But the way of doing it must be transparent, especially more so in a case which is linked not just to the freedom of a company doing business but, more importantly, to the right to speech and expression of Indian citizens.
Let the government rationally and factually prove to the world that we are a fair democracy, and expose the accusations.