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Twitter Sues Indian Govt Over Orders To Take Down Content

Over the last few years, Twitter has been asked by the government to take down hundreds of accounts and tweets.

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Twitter has filed a case challenging Indian government orders to take down certain content, a source familiar with the matter told news agency Reuters.

The lawsuit, which reportedly alleges abuse of power by officials, comes amid increasing tension between the government and the US based social media company.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) recently warned Twitter of criminal proceedings if it did not comply with takedown orders issued under India's information technology law.

After receiving several notices were in June, the platform has reportedly complied with the orders this week to avoid losing its immunity as a social media intermediary.

After news of the lawsuit broke, Minister of State Rajeev Chandrasekhar tweeted that all foreign platforms were subject to Indian laws.

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Ongoing Tussle with BJP Govt

The lawsuit is part of an ongoing tussle between Twitter and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.

Over the past few years, the Centre has asked the platform to take down hundreds of tweets and accounts under India's IT act, which allows the government to block access to content for multiple reasons, including national security.

In 2021 alone, according to documents uploaded on the Lumen database, the IT ministry asked the platform to remove around 85 Twitter accounts and tweets. Some of these belonged to farmer activists, foreign news outlets, journalists, and members of opposition.

These requests have partially been complied with and attempts at accessing some of these are met with a message that says that the tweet or account has been “withheld in India in response to a legal demand.”

In February last year, the Centre asked Twitter to block 250 accounts for "hateful" tweets on farm protest. These included accounts of news outlets and activist groups.

The platform briefly obliged, but later restored most of the accounts citing "insufficient justification" by the government.

Twitter later protested the government's requests, stating that the government's takedown orders are not "consistent with Indian law" and would violate the fundamental right to free expression.

Then, in May 2021, Twitter's offices in Delhi were visited by police after a tweet by BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra was labeled as "manipulated media". Twitter called this an intimidation tactic and expressed concern over the threat to freedom of expression.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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Topics:  Twitter   Twitter Censorship 

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