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Blocking accounts of journalists, activists, a violation of fundamental rights: Twitter

Listing some actions in compliance with the central government’s orders, Twitter said it will explore more options under Indian law and continue engaging with the Indian government.

Sabrangindia 10 Feb 2021

twitter

Social media platform Twitter stated on February 10, 2021 that it would not block accounts of journalists, activists and politicians because such an action would “violate fundamental right to free expression under Indian law.”

“In keeping with our principles of defending protected speech and freedom of expression, we have not taken any action on accounts that consist of news media entities, journalists, activists, and politicians. To do so, we believe, would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law,” said Twitter in a blog post on Wednesday morning.

Twitter said that over the last 10 days, the company received several blocking orders from the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act.

Two directions were emergency blocking orders that Twitter temporarily complied with. However, it later restored access to the content in a manner that it believed consistent with Indian law. In response, the Indian government served a non-compliance notice to Twitter. On February 3, the central government issued a notice to Twitter for “unilaterally” unblocking over 250 such accounts despite being given specific orders by the Government to block them.

The social media platform accordingly listed several actions that it took following receipt of the blocking orders:

  • Reduced visibility of hashtags containing harmful content, including keeping them from trending on Twitter and appearing as recommended search terms.

  • Range of enforcement actions such as permanent suspension in certain cases against over 500 accounts escalated across all MeitY orders for clear violations of Twitter’s Rules.

  • Twitter withheld a portion of accounts identified in the blocking orders under our Country Withheld Content policy within India only. These accounts are available outside India.

After informing the Indian government, Twitter said it will continue to maintain dialogue with the Indian government. Further, the giant company asserted it will continue to advocate for the right of free expression.

According to The Wire, the statement clarified Twitter’s stand in its ongoing stand-off with the Indian government over the blocking of 257 tweets and handles related to the farmers agitation against the three farm laws.

On February 1, farmers’ official Twitter handle Kisan Ekta Morcha, The Caravan and multiple media personnel lost access to their accounts because of a “legal demand.”

Twitter is also exploring options under Indian law, both for Twitter and 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,” said Twitter.

Related:

Centre issues notice to Twitter over reinstating blocked accounts

Twitter handles covering the kisan andolan withheld, gov't scared?

Ensure safety of protesting farmers, stop propaganda against Sikhs: Plea in SC

Farmer Protests: From streets to social media

Blocking accounts of journalists, activists, a violation of fundamental rights: Twitter

Listing some actions in compliance with the central government’s orders, Twitter said it will explore more options under Indian law and continue engaging with the Indian government.

twitter

Social media platform Twitter stated on February 10, 2021 that it would not block accounts of journalists, activists and politicians because such an action would “violate fundamental right to free expression under Indian law.”

“In keeping with our principles of defending protected speech and freedom of expression, we have not taken any action on accounts that consist of news media entities, journalists, activists, and politicians. To do so, we believe, would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law,” said Twitter in a blog post on Wednesday morning.

Twitter said that over the last 10 days, the company received several blocking orders from the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act.

Two directions were emergency blocking orders that Twitter temporarily complied with. However, it later restored access to the content in a manner that it believed consistent with Indian law. In response, the Indian government served a non-compliance notice to Twitter. On February 3, the central government issued a notice to Twitter for “unilaterally” unblocking over 250 such accounts despite being given specific orders by the Government to block them.

The social media platform accordingly listed several actions that it took following receipt of the blocking orders:

  • Reduced visibility of hashtags containing harmful content, including keeping them from trending on Twitter and appearing as recommended search terms.

  • Range of enforcement actions such as permanent suspension in certain cases against over 500 accounts escalated across all MeitY orders for clear violations of Twitter’s Rules.

  • Twitter withheld a portion of accounts identified in the blocking orders under our Country Withheld Content policy within India only. These accounts are available outside India.

After informing the Indian government, Twitter said it will continue to maintain dialogue with the Indian government. Further, the giant company asserted it will continue to advocate for the right of free expression.

According to The Wire, the statement clarified Twitter’s stand in its ongoing stand-off with the Indian government over the blocking of 257 tweets and handles related to the farmers agitation against the three farm laws.

On February 1, farmers’ official Twitter handle Kisan Ekta Morcha, The Caravan and multiple media personnel lost access to their accounts because of a “legal demand.”

Twitter is also exploring options under Indian law, both for Twitter and 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,” said Twitter.

Related:

Centre issues notice to Twitter over reinstating blocked accounts

Twitter handles covering the kisan andolan withheld, gov't scared?

Ensure safety of protesting farmers, stop propaganda against Sikhs: Plea in SC

Farmer Protests: From streets to social media

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