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SOURCE: DAWN

Pakistan on Monday expressed “serious concern” over reports emanating from the international media that the Indian government had attempted to “infiltrate the security system” of Twitter by forcing it to employ an Indian “agent/representative”.

Last week, a former Twitter Inc security chief had alleged that the Indian government forced the social media firm to put a government agent on the payroll. Peiter ‘Mudge’ Zatko had raised the issue with the US Securities and Exchange Commission among other security lapse claims at Twitter.

He said the government agent would have had access to sensitive user data due to Twitter’s weak security infrastructure, according to a redacted version of the complaint uploaded by The Washington Post newspaper and verified by Zatko’s attorney at Whistleblower Aid.

A company source said that the allegations about the India government had surfaced previously within Twitter, without elaborating further. Representatives for India’s IT ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In a statement today, Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad said that as per media reports, the matter came up during Twitter’s briefing to India’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Technology where legal depositions made in the US by a former Twitter employee were also discussed.

“Regrettably, a large number of Twitter handles particularly those belonging to Kashmiri political leaders and media persons, continue to remain blocked due to India’s frivolous legal objections,” he said.

The statement pointed out that it was only last month that Pakistan had registered a protest with the Indian government over the blocking of access to contents of several Twitter handles of Pakistan’s diplomatic Missions as well as the national broadcaster Radio Pakistan.

“Pakistan deplores India’s brazen abuse of state-power and strong-arm tactics to manipulate and force-regulate the Internet sphere,” Ahmad said, adding that these actions were not only against international standards, obligations, norms, and framework of flow of information but also reflected the “alarming pace of shrinking space for pluralistic voices and curbing of fundamental freedoms in India”.

The FO spokesperson also called upon the neighbouring country to immediately reverse the blockage of Twitter accounts of Pakistan’s diplomatic Missions and Radio Pakistan, to adhere to the established international norms and standards of freedom of expression as espoused by the United Nations, and desist from employing subterfuges to control the global Internet domain.