Twitter moves Karnataka High Court against take down orders
A day after complying with the government’s directions, Twitter on Tuesday moved to the Karnataka High Court, challenging the government’s orders to take down content under the new IT rules, saying it is an abuse of power by officials. The US-based social media company has challenged a government order issued in June 2022, terming the blocking orders “overbroad and arbitrary“, failed to provide notice to the originators of the content, and was disproportionate in several cases.
July 4 was the last day for complying with the Ministry of Electronics’ directions and the company complied on the last day, said officials.
According to lawyers, Twitter has filed a case in Court saying the several directions placed by the government are allegedly for action against political content that has been posted by official handles of political parties, and the firm views blocking of such information as a violation of the freedom of speech guaranteed to citizen users of the platform. “The content requested to be blocked does not have any apparent proximate relationship to the ground under Section 69A,” said the lawyers who had access to Twitter’s petition filed in the court.
Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar in a tweet said all platforms have the right to approach court but they have an unambiguous obligation to comply with laws.
In India,all incldng foreign Internet intermediaries/platforms have right to court n judicial review.
— Rajeev Chandrasekhar 🇮🇳 (@Rajeev_GoI) July 5, 2022
According to the Twitter petition, several blocking orders were issued under Section 69A but failed to demonstrate how the content falls within those grounds or how the said content is violative of Section 69A said the lawyers. “Twitter has sought judicial review of the blocking orders from the court,” they said.
The government in May had asked Twitter to act on content related to Khalistan and accounts eulogizing terrorists in Kashmir. Later in June, the government asked Twitter to act on around 60 accounts. Twitter has taken action on the request and reported compliance.
On June 26, the microblogging site submitted a separate list of over 80 Twitter accounts and tweets that are blocked based on a request from the government in 2021. The request from the government was to block multiple accounts and some tweets from the international advocacy group Freedom House, journalists, politicians, and supporters of the farmers’ protest.
Meanwhile, in Delhi, reacting to a question, Union IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said how to make social media accountable has become a very valid question across the globe. Self-regulation is a first step in the direction of making social media accountable, followed by industry regulation, and then government regulations, he said.
“Social media is a very powerful medium. Social media has a big influence on our lives. How to make it accountable has become a very valid question across the globe. All across the globe, countries, and societies are moving in the direction of making social media accountable,” he said while interacting with media persons on the sideline of a program.
To a question on ways to make social media accounts, the Minister said the first step is self-regulation. “Any such content that creates a harmful impact on society should be removed. Next comes industry regulation, and thereafter the government regulation,” he added. “Everywhere across the globe and even in our country, an ecosystem, a thought process, is being created to make social media accountable,” Vaishnaw said after interacting with the startups and students at Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII).
The government formulated new IT Rules in early 2021. Facebook and WhatsApp already complied with the rules and Twitter was resistive. There were police raids at Twitter offices after the company did not take down the sensitive messages.
 IT rules: Twitter complies with Meity’s final notice, says report – Jul 4, 2022, Business Standard
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