Twitter faces new headache in India after police criticism over controversial map By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Twitter logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, the United States, Sept. 28, 2016. REUTERS / Brendan McDermid / File Photo

From Saurabh Sharma

LUCKNOW, India (Reuters) – A hardline Hindu group has filed a complaint with the police against Twitter’s country chief after showing politically sensitive areas outside of a map of India on their website in an investigation into new headaches for the US tech company has initiated.

A map on Twitter’s careers page showed the Jammu and Kashmir region, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan, as well as the Buddhist enclave of Ladakh outside India. It sparked an outcry on social media this week, sparked amid strained relations between Twitter and New Delhi over the company’s compliance with India’s new IT rules.

The lawsuit accuses Twitter’s India boss Manish Maheshwari and another company leader of violating the country’s IT rules and laws designed to prevent class enmity and hatred.

“This has hurt my feelings and those of the Indian people,” said Praveen Bhati, a leader of the Bajrang Dal group in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, in the Reuters-examined complaint. He also called it an act of betrayal.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment. As of Tuesday, the card was no longer visible on their website.

Maheshwari was summoned by police in Uttar Pradesh just this month for failing to stop the distribution of a video allegedly leading to religious discord. Maheshwari has received discharge from a court in this case.

India’s technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has criticized Twitter for not complying with the new Indian rules and denying him access to his Twitter account.

To comply with the rules that went into effect in May, companies like Twitter must appoint a chief compliance officer, complaints officer, and other executive to liaise with law enforcement and the government on legal inquiries. LinkedIn job postings show that the three positions are open on Twitter.

A senior government official previously told Reuters that due to non-compliance with new IT rules, Twitter may no longer be able to solicit disclaimers as an agent or host of user content in India. However, activists say it is up to the courts to decide.

Last year, the chairman of an Indian parliamentary panel accused Twitter of disregarding New Delhi’s sovereignty after map data revealed that territory ruled by India is part of China, which the social media firm described as a bug that was quickly fixed.

Growing tensions with New Delhi have discouraged major US tech companies about the prospects for their largest growth market, causing some to reconsider their expansion plans.

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