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Twitter Denied Access to Account For an Hour: Ravi Shankar Prasad

“Friends! Something highly peculiar happened today,” RS Prasad tweeted.

Updated
Tech and Auto
4 min read
File photo of Union Minister RS Prasad.
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Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday, 25 June, claimed that Twitter denied him access to his account for almost an hour.

After the assertions by RS Prasad, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said his accounted had faced similar action.

Offering a reply to the Union Minster, the social media platform explained that the account was restricted following a DMCA notice for content posted from his account.

Taking to Twitter, after access was restored, Prasad said: “Friends! Something highly peculiar happened today. Twitter denied access to my account for almost an hour on the alleged ground that there was a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of the USA and subsequently they allowed me to access the account.”

It should be noted that the Twitter account of the minister was visible for public viewing.

What Happened?

When the minister tried to log in to the Twitter account the microblogging platform showed a message saying, “Your account has been locked because Twitter received a compliant Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Notice for content posted to your Twitter account. Twitter maintains a repeat copyright infringer policy under repeat infringer accounts will be suspended. Accruing multiple DMCA strikes may lead to suspension of your account.”

However, an hour later, Twitter unlocked the access to the account by posting a warning message to the minister’s account stating, “Your account is now available for use. Please be aware that any additional notices against your account may result in your account being locked again and potentially suspended. In order to avoid this, do not post additional material in violation of our Copyright Policy and immediately remove any material from your account for which you are not authorised to post.”

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Violation of Rule(4): IT Minister

Prasad, in a tweet, alleged that Twitter’s actions were in gross violation of Rule 4(8) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 “where they failed to provide me any prior notice before denying me access to my own account”.

He said: "It is apparent that my statements calling out the high handedness and arbitrary actions of Twitter, particularly sharing the clips of my interviews to TV channels and its powerful impact, have clearly ruffled its feathers."

The minister also clarified that in the past several years, no television channel or anchor has complained about copyright infringements with regard to these news clips of his interviews shared on social media.

"No matter what any platform does, they will have to abide by the new IT Rules fully and there shall be no compromise on that,” the minister added.

What Twitter Said

Meanwhile, Twitter in a statement, said: “We can confirm that the Honourable Minister’s account access was temporarily restricted due to a DMCA notice only and the referenced Tweet has been withheld. As per our copyright policy, we respond to valid copyright complaints sent to us by a copyright owner or their authorized representatives.”

What are DMCA Notices?

A DMCA takedown is sent when a copyright owner believes someone has posted an infringement and they want it removed.

Twitter, in its ‘help centre’, explains, "If you receive a copyright complaint, it means that access to the content described in the complaint has been restricted. Please take the time to read through our correspondence to you, which includes information on the complaint we received as well as instructions on how to file a counter-notice. Please ensure that you are monitoring the email address associated with your Twitter account."

However, Twitter notes that removing the material reported in a copyright complaint will not resolve that complaint.

What Tharoor Said

The Congress MP said that he was blocked from his Twitter account for a copyright violation over a video he had posted of a dance performance featuring the song ‘Rasputin’ and referred to the DMCA as 'hyperactive.'

After a series of tweets in which Tharoor called the complaint 'stupid' and 'pointless', he wrote: "As chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, I can state that we will be seeking an explanation from Twitter India for the locking of RS Prasad's and my accounts and the rules and the procedures they follow while operating in India."

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Twitter vs RS Prasad

Just a week ago, Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said that Twitter had lost its intermediary status and become liable under Indian laws, including the Indian Penal Code.

“We gave them (Twitter) three months. Others have followed (the rules), they haven't. Rule 7 of the (IT) guidelines says that if you don't comply then under Section 79, you may lose intermediary status and may become liable to other laws, including penal laws of the country,” Prasad told news agency ANI.

Meanwhile, the microblogging platform said that every effort is being made to comply with the new guidelines, but because of the pandemic, it has been unable to do so, a source told PTI.

Twitter’s reply came after the Centre on 5 June, served "one last notice" to Twitter to immediately comply with the new IT Rules, saying that failure to do so will result in the withdrawal of the exemption from liability available under Section 79 of the IT Act, 2000, and the microblogging platform will be liable for consequences as per the IT Act and other penal laws of India.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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