Friday, September 30, 2022

Twitter pursues legal review of Indian govt to take down content related to Farmer Protest

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Twitter is attempting to reverse some Indian government orders to remove information from its social media platform, according to a source familiar with the situation, in a court challenge that alleges official abuse of authority.
The move by the US corporation to obtain a court review is part of a deepening conflict with New Delhi.

Over the last year, Indian authorities have ordered Twitter to take action on content such as accounts supporting an independent Sikh state, those said to have propagated disinformation about farmer protest, and tweets critical of the government’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Despite their legal standing, the Indian government has previously said that major social media companies, including Twitter, have refused to comply with removal demands.

Late last month, India’s IT ministry threatened Twitter with criminal charges if it did not comply with certain instructions. According to the source, Twitter agreed this week in order to avoid losing liability exemptions available as a host of material.

According to the source, Twitter contends in its plea for court review that several removal orders did not meet the procedural standards of India’s IT laws, but did not identify which ones.

The IT Act empowers the government to restrict public access to material for a variety of reasons, including national security.

Twitter, which according to market research companies has around 24 million users in India, also claims in its submission that some of the orders failed to provide notice to content writers.

According to the source, some were connected to political information provided by official accounts of political parties, the blocking of which amounts to a breach of free expression.

Tensions with the Indian government erupted early last year when Twitter refused to cooperate fully with an order to remove accounts and postings that New Delhi said were spreading disinformation regarding anti-government farmer demonstrations.

In India, the firm has also been the target of criminal investigations, and last year, several Indian government politicians switched to the locally made site Koo, accusing Twitter of breaking local regulations.

Twitter has also drawn criticism in India for banning the accounts of powerful persons, including politicians, alleging policy breaches.

India, which has among the most government demands for material takedowns, is exploring changes to its new IT legislation, including the establishment of a government-run appeals tribunal with the authority to overturn social media businesses’ content moderation judgments.

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