Twitter won’t be sending its CEO Jack Dorsey to face the Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology on Monday 25 February. Instead, Twitter on Friday confirmed that Colin Crowell, Global Vice President of Public Policy for Twitter, will face India’s panel.
In a statement given to IANS, the micro-blogging platform said that for Crowell, the 2019 Lok Sabha election is a key priority for Twitter.
"We thank the Parliamentary Committee for its invitation to hear Twitter's views on 'safeguarding citizen rights on social/online news media platforms'," said a Twitter spokesperson.
"These are issues for all internet services globally. Colin Crowell, Global Vice President of Public Policy for Twitter, will meet with the Committee on Monday," the spokesperson added.
The government has accused Twitter of being "slow" in removing "objectionable content" and "political bias" from its platform.
Sources said on February 11, the committee had refused to meet junior officials from Twitter's India office who were present at the meeting venue.
The panel passed an unanimous resolution that the microblogging site's CEO should make himself available to show the company's seriousness in safeguarding rights of Indian citizens online, they added.
As per the resolution, the panel would hear only the Twitter CEO or senior member of its global team "who has decision making authority regarding Twitter's operations in India," one of the sources had said.
Headed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Anurag Thakur, the House panel had earlier summoned Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey over measures taken to ensure the safety and security of the users and allegations that the social media site is discriminating against "nationalist" posts on its platform.
In the absence of Dorsey, Crowell will represent Twitter during the 31-member parliamentary panel hearing.
In an earlier statement, Crowell said that India is one of its fastest-growing audience markets globally.
"We are committed to surfacing all sides of the conversation as we enter the election season in this extraordinarily diverse cultural, political and social climate," noted Crowell.
According to him, Twitter does not review, prioritise or enforce its policies on the basis of political ideology.
"Every Tweet and every account is treated impartially. We apply our policies fairly and judiciously for all," Crowell added.
The Twitter hearing comes at a time when the Indian government has also formulated new IT guidelines where social media platforms have to remove within 24 hours any unlawful content that can affect the “sovereignty and integrity of India”.
The Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology, tasked with examining several aspects related to data security and privacy, has also reportedly asked Facebook and WhatsApp to be present before it on 6 March.
(With IANS and PTI inputs)