Twitter gets pulled up for showing Ladakh in China

Showing Ladakh in China amounts to criminal offence: parliamentary panel to Twitter

Twitter told the panel that the social media company respects the sensitivities of India

Representatives of Twitter appeared before the joint committee of parliament on Data Protection Bill. Credit: AFP Photo

Twitter on Wednesday faced trouble with a Parliamentary Standing Committee coming down heavily on the micro-blogging site for showing Ladakh as part of China, saying it was "treason" while insisting that US-based parent company and not its Indian arm should submit an explanation in the form of an affidavit.

Sources said Twitter India representatives were told by MPs in the Joint Committee of Parliament on Personal Data Protection Bill headed by BJP's Meenakshi Lekhi in no uncertain terms that its action was a criminal offence that questioned the sovereignty of the country.

Also Read: Twitter shows Jammu and Kashmir, Leh as part of China; irate users lambast platform

The Twitter India representatives "begged apology" but were told that affidavit must be submitted by Twitter Inc, not by its 'marketing arm' Twitter India, sources said after the over two-hour-long deliberations of the committee, which included questioning 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 said.

While Twitter India officials said the social media company respects the sensitivities of India, Lekhi said that it was not only a matter of sensitivity of India or Indians but a question about national integrity and sovereignty of the country, and not respecting that is a criminal offence.

Displaying Indian maps improperly and incorrectly is an offence of treason and attracts imprisonment of seven years, she reminded.

Questions about Twitter's banning policy were also raised during the meeting. MPs were of the view that Twitter's banning policy was not clear and it has become a law unto themselves.

Twitter India was represented by its Senior Manager (Public Policy) Shagufta Kamran, Legal Counsel Ayushi Kapoor, Pallavi Walia (policy communications) and Manvinder Bali (corporate security).

In a statement, Twitter said it remains committed to openness and transparency, and will stay in regular touch with the government to share timely updates.

The company's statement comes in the backdrop of its appearance in front of the joint committee of parliament on Data Protection Bill, 2019, on Wednesday. Representatives of the social media company were also questioned by the members on showing Ladakh as part of China.

"The recent geo-tagging 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," a Twitter spokesperson said.