Twitter’s Blog on Govt’s Blocking Orders ‘Unusual’: IT Ministry

These accounts are available outside the country, Twitter said in a blogpost on Tuesday.

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Tech and Auto
2 min read
The Indian government has asked Twitter to remove 1,178 accounts that have Pakistani and Khalistani users involved. Image used for representation. 
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Social media giant Twitter, in response to the blocking orders by the Government of India against 1,400 accounts related to the ongoing farmers’ protests, on Wednesday, 10 February, has said in a blog that it had “withheld a portion of the accounts” but “within India only.”

In a detailed blog, the micro-blogging site stated that the withheld accounts “continue to be available outside of India”, in accordance with the platform’s internal content witholding policy. According to its rules, upon receiving a valid legal request, Twitter accounts and tweets would be withheld only in the country if it is found to be violating Indian laws but not going against Twitter’s rules.

The blog comes amid an escalating tension between the US-based social media giant and the Indian government. In a response that indicates the government’s displeasure over Twitter’s blog on Wednesday, the Union Electeonics & IT Ministry said in an interim response that the blog was “unusual” given the Ministry’s secretary is scheduled to meet with Twitter officials.

“Upon the request of Twitter seeking a meeting with the govt., the Secretary IT was to engage with senior management of Twitter. In this light a blog post published prior to this engagement is unusual. Govt. will share its response soon,” a tweet by the Ministry stated.

Govt’s Blocking Orders to Twitter

On 1 February, 257 accounts were ‘withheld because of a legal demand’ from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and remained unavailable in India for most of the day. They were subsequently restored by Twitter, which pushed back against the blocking in discussions with the government at a meeting on 1 February.

Following this, it was served with a non-compliance notice by the Union Electronics & IT Ministry.

Many accounts will be removed permanently and will not appear in the Trends section as well. However, These accounts will be available outside the country, Twitter said in a blogpost on Tuesday.

The social media platform further said that it had not taken any action on accounts of media, journalists, activists, and politicians as to do so “would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law. To do so, we believe, would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law. We informed MeitY of our enforcement actions today,” it wrote in a blog post.

“We will continue to advocate for the right of free expression on behalf of the people we serve. We are exploring options under Indian law — both for Twitter and for the accounts that have been impacted. We remain committed to safeguarding the health of the conversation occurring on Twitter, and strongly believe that the Tweets should flow,” the blogpost further read.

Earlier, it was reported that Twitter had reportedly reached out to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) after the request to block accounts.

In a statement, a company spokesperson had asserted that tweets must continue to flow.

“We strongly believe that the open and free exchange of information has a positive global impact, and that the Tweets must continue to flow," they said.

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