Twitter sues Indian government over content crime

TWITTER

Microblogging platform Twitter filed a lawsuit against the Indian government on Tuesday seeking to undo the recently issued orders to remove specific tweets from its website.

In the lawsuit filed by Twitter on July 5, the company alleged that the Indian government’s takedown orders amounted to an abuse of power by officials to remove content shared on its website.

The lawsuit filed in the Karnataka High Court in southern Bengaluru city comes after Twitter received a letter from the IT ministry last month requesting that it act on the takedown notices of content sent under Section 69(A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 with notices of non-compliance for not removing the content. The deadline to comply with Ministry of IT guidelines was July 4.

Failure to comply with the 2021 Intermediary Liability and Digital Media Ethics Code (IT) rules could have resulted in Twitter losing its immunity as a social media intermediary under Section 79 of the IT Act, meaning it could be held liable has been posted on his platform for all comments.

“In an application filed with Karnataka’s highest court, Twitter argued that some of the government orders had failed to notify tweet authors. Some of the injunctions involved political content posted by official party handles, the blocking of which amounts to a violation of freedom of expression,” the Reuters report reads.

For the past year, Twitter has been at odds with the Indian government, asking to remove sensitive topics such as the pursuit of an independent Sikh state, alleged misinformation about farmers’ protests and dozens of tweets critical of the way the government coped with the COVID-19 -19 pandemic.

The posts reportedly contain some blocking orders related to political content shared by official political party handles.

“Blocking such information is a violation of the freedom of expression guaranteed to the citizen users of the platform. Further, the content in question has no apparent direct relationship to the grounds under Section 69A,” Twitter said in the lawsuit.

In response to the lawsuit, Ashwini Vaishnaw, India’s IT minister, said companies must abide by India’s laws. “Whether a business, in any sector, they have to abide by the laws of India. This is everyone’s responsibility to abide by the laws passed by parliament,” said IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.

Meanwhile, IT Minister of State Rajeev Chandrasekhar tweeted that all foreign intermediaries/platforms have an unequivocal obligation to comply with Indian laws, but they have the right to judicial and judicial review.

According to Twitter’s monthly compliance report, the company banned more than 46,000 Indian user accounts in May for violating the guidelines. Furthermore, between April 26, 2022 and May 25, 2022, the platform received 1,698 complaints in India through its local complaints device.

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