Parliamentary panel refuses to meet with Indian Twitter official, resends summons to CEO

The Parliamentary panel is offended that Twitter's senior leadership turned down its summons.

Twitter just a few hours ago stated that it will be sending its Director, Policy for South Asia Mahima Kaul to answer the summons issued to the company by the parliamentary committee on IT. The US-based social networking service didn’t provide a specific date for the meeting, however. As per an IANS tweet, the parliamentary panel on IT has resent the summons to Twitter’s CEO as they don't want to talk to "people without authority."

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. image: Reuters

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. image: Reuters

Notably, Twitter’s CEO and top officials were summoned by the parliamentary committee on IT for a panel meeting on 7 February to answer questions on alleged bias against right-wing voices on its platform. While the meeting iss delayed till 11 February, the issue escalated when the company’s CEO and other Twitter executives failed to attend despite a ten-day extension being given to prepare for the meeting.

Twitter in a statement on Saturday said, “Given the short notice of the hearing, we informed the Committee that it would not be possible for senior officials from Twitter to travel from the United States to appear on Monday. Our CEO, Jack Dorsey, and other senior Twitter executives visited India in recent weeks because it is an important market for Twitter and we value the growing interest in Twitter in India.”

The company, however, stated that it could send someone from Twitter to attend the panel meeting or to work with the Lok Sabha Secretariat to find suitable dates so that a senior official from the company can attend, as per an Indian Express report.

The panel led by BJP MP Anurag Thakur had summoned Twitter representatives and the Ministry of Electronics and Information to be present at the meeting on 11 February at 3 pm to discuss the issue of safeguarding citizens’ “rights on social media/online news platforms.”

The parliamentary committee is exploring ways of expressing frustration and considering ways of sending a "strong" message after Twitter declined the summons. Government sources have reportedly labelled the company’s response as ‘cold.’

Meenakshi Lekhi, BJP national spokesperson in response to the controversy, said, "In this situation, if Twitter is disrespecting established institution of Parliament, then there are repercussions. If there is any violation of any sort, then there are repercussions to those violations."

As USA Today notes, Twitter faced similar accusation last year when controversy culminated in a US Congressional hearing where Jack Dorsey appeared before a US Senate committee and fended off accusations that Twitter’s algorithms were discriminating against and ‘shadow banning’ prominent Republicans.

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