Business & Economy

Twitter briefly blocks Indian minister amid heightened tensions with Delhi

New Delhi, Jun 25 (EFE).- India’s Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was on Friday denied access to his Twitter account for around an hour in a new flashpoint in ongoing tensions between the social network and Indian authorities, which have clashed over the government’s new guidelines for regulating online content.

Prasad alleged that the microblogging site denied him access to his account over supposed violations of a United States’ copyright law for sharing videos of himself on a TV program.

“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,” the minister tweeted.

He added that Twitter’s actions “indicate that they are not the harbinger of free speech that they claim to be but are only interested in running their own agenda, with the threat that if you do not tow the line they draw, they will arbitrarily remove you from their platform.”

The incident comes a week after the Indian government accused Twitter of “deliberately” not complying with its new guidelines to regulate online content, which have been termed a potential threat to freedom of expression by the social network.

“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,” Prasad insisted on Friday.

The new rules, announced in February and enforced from May 26 under the name of Intermediary Guidelines, have also been resisted by Whatsapp, due to concerns that they violate users’ privacy.

The new rules make it mandatory for the networks to rapidly delete content deemed illegal and require digital platforms to trace the originator of controversial messages for the “prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or punishment of an offense related to sovereignty and integrity of India.”

Whatsapp said that this would mean a violation of privacy and an end to its message encryption policy, while the rules have also been criticized by activists as an attack on freedom of expression and censorship attempt by the Hindu right-wing government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Non-compliance with the rules could put Twitter at the risk of losing the legal protection it enjoys as an intermediary for sharing information, and being held culpable for the content published on its platforms by users. EFE

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