Thursday, August 18, 2022

Indian government sued by Twitter

The move by Twitter to get a judicial review is part of the growing hostility with the Indian government over content regulation

PRAVASISAMWAD.COM

In a legal challenge that alleges abuse of power by officials, social media site Twitter wants to overturn some orders by the Indian government to take down content from its platform.

Confrontations between the government and the microblogging company have been going on for quite some time now. The move by Twitter to get a judicial review is part of the growing hostility with the Indian government over content regulation.

Twitter has argued in its request for a judicial review that some removal orders fell short of the procedural requirements of the IT Act, according to a source quoted by ToI. Twitter did not mention which ones it wanted reviewed.

The IT act allows the government to block public access to content in the interest of national security, among other reasons. Twitter had been asked by the Indian authorities over the past year to act on content, including accounts supportive of an independent Sikh state and dozens of tweets that were critical of the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Big social media firms including Twitter have not complied with removal requests, according to the Indian government. Last month, Twitter had been warned by India’s IT Ministry, that it could face criminal proceedings if it did not comply with some orders. Twitter has complied this week, the source said, so that it does not lose liability exemptions available as a host of content.

Twitter has also faced a backlash in India for blocking accounts of influential individuals, including politicians, citing violations of its policies

Twitter has also said in its filing that some of the orders had failed to give notice to authors of the content. It also said that some were related to political content posted by official handles of political parties and their blocking would amount to violation of freedom of speech.

Tensions between Twitter and the Indian government reached a flashpoint last year when Twitter did not fully comply with an order to take down accounts and posts that were allegedly spreading misinformation about anti-government protests. Twitter has also been investigated by the police in India and last year many Indian government ministers moved to the home-grown platform Koo, accusing Twitter of non-compliance with local laws, according to the ET report.

Twitter has also faced a backlash in India for blocking accounts of influential individuals, including politicians, citing violations of its policies.

The Indian government — industry transparency reports show that India is among the highest in government requests for content takedowns — is considering some amendments to its new IT rules, including the introduction of a government-run appeals panel with the power to reverse the content moderation decisions of social media firms. Such measures were necessary, according to government sources, because social media companies had violated Indians’ constitutional rights, reported ET.

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