Crime & Justice

Indian government justifies move as Twitter appeals blocking orders in court

New Delhi, Jul 7 (EFE).- India justified on Thursday its orders to block content on Twitter, which considers the move disproportionate and has appealed against it at a court earlier this week, marking a new episode of tension between the online platform and the government.

Referring to the much criticized blocking orders, the Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, said the requests were “very thought through,” while acknowledging that Twitter claims that “the procedure adopted by the government are not (…) what the law of the rule specifies.”

“We don’t do it because we don’t like a tweet, or because of that person in that Facebook account we are pissed off with,” he stressed.

On Tuesday, Twitter lodged an appeal at the High Court of the southern state of Karnataka against several orders issued by the Indian authorities to block content and even entire accounts, sources close to the case told EFE on the condition of anonymity.

According to the sources, the petition by Twitter claims several of these orders to block content were “overbroad and arbitrary” and some of them “could pertain to political content that is posted by official handles of political parties.”

The appeal by Twitter comes after Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology sent a letter to the social media platform in June warning of serious consequences if it did not execute the blocking orders issued by it.

Chandrasekhar acknowledged that the company can ask for a judicial review of the orders, although he had tweeted on Tuesday that all online platforms “have unambiguous obligation to comply with our laws n rules.”

Last year, a new law came into force in India under the name of the Intermediary Guidelines, which requires the swift removal of any illegal content and help investigate its origin.

One of points of concern for Twitter is that the failure to comply with the rules puts the US company in danger of losing its legal protection under its intermediary status, and being held responsible for the content that users publish on its platform.

WhatsApp – which has some 530 million users in India, according to government data – appealed against this regulation last year and taken the government to court.

The Indian government has been accused by international organizations such as Amnesty International of restricting freedom of expression in the country.

Recently, the arrest of journalist Mohammed Zubair on the accusation of hurting the religious feelings of the Hindu majority through a tweet he published in 2018, has drawn to sharp criticism from press associations and opposition politicians. EFE


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