Twitter faces more heat as FIRs registered for depicting wrong India map, allowing child sexual abuse material

·6-min read

New Delhi/Lucknow, Jun 29 (PTI) In more trouble for Twitter, an FIR was lodged in Uttar Pradesh against two senior officials of its India office over the social media platform putting up a distorted map of the country, while the Madhya Pradesh government said it will also initiate legal action against the microblogging giant over the issue.

The Delhi Police said it has registered a case against Twitter on a complaint by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) for allegedly allowing access to child sexual abuse material on the social media platform.

It is the latest in the run-ins between Twitter and Indian authorities. While the social media giant is mired in a row with the central government over not following the new IT rules, Twitter India MD Manish Maheshwari was recently summoned by Ghaziabad police in UP in a probe into an objectionable video posted in connection with an assault on an elderly Muslim man.

The FIR in the wrong map issue was lodged at the Khurja Nagar police station in Bulandshahr district of Uttar Pradesh on Monday evening against Maheshwari and News Partnerships Head Amrita Tripathi under Indian Penal Code section 505 (2) (public mischief) based on a complaint by an office-bearer of right wing outfit Bajrang Dal.

Twitter had on Monday removed the wrong map that showed the Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir outside India, following an uproar.

'The world map does not show Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir as parts of India. This is not a coincidence. This act has hurt the sentiments of Indians, including me,' Bajrang Dal's western UP convenor Praveen Bhati said in the complaint.

Charges under Information Technology Act section 74 (publication for fraudulent purpose) have also been invoked in the case, according to the FIR.

Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra said he has directed the state' Director General of Police (DGP) Vivek Johri to investigate the matter related to distorted map and take legal action in this direction.

'These issues cannot be taken lightly. The governments at the Centre and the state have taken it seriously,' he said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Mishra said such incidents of speaking against or doing something against the country are on the rise.

Earlier, Twitter had shown Leh as part of China.

In Delhi, the police have registered an FIR against Twitter under relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the IT Act for allegedly allowing access to child pornography on the microblogging platform on a complaint by the NCPCR.

This comes days after the NCPCR, the country's apex child rights body, asked Deputy Commissioner of Police (Cyber Cell) Anyesh Roy to explain why no action had been taken against In its letter, the NCPCR had asked the Delhi Police to book Twitter in the wake of the findings of its recent inquiry in which it had found that child sexual abuse material (CSAM) was easily available on the platform.

'Acting on a complaint received from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights regarding the availability of child sexual abuse and child pornographic material on Twitter in the form of various accounts and links, an FIR under relevant sections of IPC, IT Act and POCSO Act has been registered by the Cyber Crime Unit, and investigation has been taken up,' Delhi Police Public Relations Officer Chinmoy Biswal said.

The complaint was against Twitter Inc and Twitter Communication India Private Ltd., the police said.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka High Court, which was hearing Maheshwari’s plea for relief in the Ghaziabad case, on Tuesday adjourned to matter till July 5 after the Uttar Pradesh police urged it to defer the hearing.

Maheshwari, who lives in Bengaluru in Karnataka, was issued notice by the Ghaziabad Police asking him to report at its Loni Border police station on June 24 to get his statement recorded in the case.

The court had restrained the Ghaziabad police from initiating any coercive action against him.

Justice Narendar had also maintained if the police wanted to examine Maheswhari, they could do so through virtual mode.

In a video clip, which surfaced on social media on June 14, the elderly Muslim man, Abdul Shamad Saifi, alleged he was thrashed by some young men and asked to chant 'Jai Shri Ram'.

The Ghaziabad Police had on June 15 lodged an FIR against Twitter Inc, Twitter Communications India, news website The Wire, journalists Mohammad Zubair and Rana Ayyub, Congress' Salman Nizami, Masqoor Usmani, Dr Sama Mohammad and writer Saba Naqvi for sharing the clip.

The police, which had ruled out communal angle in the incident, claimed the video was shared to cause communal unrest.

The government has confronted the US digital giant over deliberate defiance and failure to comply with the country's new IT rules, despite repeated reminders.

Notably, the microblogging platform has lost its legal shield as an intermediary in India, becoming liable for users posting any unlawful content.

In October last year, Twitter came under heavy criticism and faced backlash after its geotagging feature displayed 'Jammu & Kashmir, People's Republic of China' in a live broadcast from Leh's Hall of Fame, a war memorial for fallen soldiers in the Union Territory of Ladakh.

India had issued a stern warning to Twitter that time, making it clear that any disrespect of the country's sovereignty and integrity is totally unacceptable.

In November, Twitter again showed Leh as part of Jammu and Kashmir instead of the Union Territory of Ladakh, following which the Centre issued a notice to the US-based company for disrespecting the territorial integrity of India by showing an incorrect map.

On Friday, Twitter again drew flak after it briefly blocked IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad from accessing his account over alleged violation of US copyright law -- a move that was immediately slammed by the minister as being arbitrary and in gross violation of IT rules.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology chaired by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor haz now asked Twitter to reply within two days on locking of accounts of Prasad and Tharoor.

Several members of the panel had categorically told Twitter officials who earlier appeared before it that the rule of land is supreme not the social media platform's policies.

Twitter and the government have been on a collision course on multiple other issues in the past months, including during the farmers' protest and later when the microblogging platform tagged political posts of several leaders of the ruling party BJP as 'manipulated media'.

The Information and Technology ministry has called out Twitter on a number of occasions for attempting to dictate terms to the world's largest democracy. PTI KIS NIT ADU GMS SA BN JTR RT RT

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