India’s BJP roots for social media regulation as Twitter suspends Trump's account

Sputnik news agency and radio 07:39 GMT 09.01.2021

 

A number of Indian lawmakers have been regularly calling out Facebook, Twitter and Amazon over their alleged breach of data privacy rules and their political biases. Last year, a parliamentary panel had summoned these tech giants to discuss the issue of data protection and privacy over the country's Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019.

 

Hours after Twitter announced the permanent suspension of US President Donald Trump’s account, a chorus arose in India's legislature condemning tech giants, with parliamentarians and nationalists passionately reiterating their previous demand for the expedited introduction of strong regulations to control such companies.

 

“If they can do this to POTUS, they can do this to anyone,” said Tejasvi Surya, president of the youth wing of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who is the MP from the country’s tech hub Bangalore South. Surya said that Twitter's decision should serve as a wake-up call for the government.

 

Earlier on Saturday, Twitter, the world's leading micro-blogging platform, scrutinised recent Tweets from US President Donald Trump and permanently suspended his account due to the risk of the further incitement of violence.

 

Amit Malaviya, who is in charge of BJP's Information and Technology department, described the big tech firms as the new “oligarchs”; he stated that the company's deplatforming of a sitting US president sets a “dangerous precedent”.

 

“It has less to do with his views and more to do with intolerance for a differing point. Ironically, those who claim to champion free speech are celebrating,” Malaviya said.

 

Dr. Praveen Patil, a demographic scientist and founder of 5forty3 datalabs, said that big tech is no longer just interested in profits. “They (big tech) have moved beyond the previous phase of behavioural predictions (the click economy); they are now in the phase of behavioural engineering on a mass scale. Engineering the masses in the US is just the beginning,” Patil said while urging to the BJP and the RSS leadership to move beyond mere policy changes and begin actively competing in the core data-tech game of behavioural engineering.

 

​Rajeev Chandrasekhar, an industrialist-turned-parliamentarian, while proposing an "Algorithmic Accountability Bill" to target and hold responsible digital intermediaries, accused the US social media platforms Twitter and Facebook of biased behaviour.

 

An Indian parliamentary panel had also summoned Twitter's Chief Executive Dorsey, after right-wing politicians including some ruling BJP party members alleged that the company had lowered their visibility, ahead of the country's 2019 general elections.

 

Meanwhile, opposition party members and some others have started requesting that Twitter act in a similar manner in India as well.