The Indian government has taken the micro-blogging site Twitter to court after it ordered it to remove some content from its platform. Twitter says the demands of India’s Hindu nationalist government are either arbitrary or excessive. The Indian authorities have been at loggerheads with Twitter for some time.
Indian authorities have instructed Twitter to remove several posts from their platform in the past few years. These ranged from posts in support of an independent Sikh state to so-called lies about the peasant movement, and criticism of the Indian government’s failure to deal with the Covid.
According to Twitter, they have been asked to close many accounts in India in recent weeks. This includes Rana Ayub, a well-known Muslim journalist and critic in India, and some accounts run by the Pakistani government.
The fact that Twitter has now resorted to court against them suggests that their conflict with the Indian government is intensifying. When the government of India issued these directives, it was sharply criticized by all rights activists in favor of freedom of expression.
But the Indian government says social media companies must abide by Indian law.
Last year, when there was a strong movement of farmers in India, Twitter closed about two and a half hundred accounts after a legal notice from the Indian government. The Indian government objected to the accounts, citing public order.
Among these accounts were accounts of many investigative news magazines, rights activists and groups. They were supporting the blockade of farmers outside Delhi.
However, within six hours of the closure, Twitter reopened the accounts. Then they said, there is not enough reason to close these accounts.
In February last year, Indian authorities told Twitter that they were welcome to do business in India, but only in accordance with Indian law.
After police visited Twitter’s office in Delhi in May this year, Twitter expressed concern about freedom of expression in India.
“Whether it is a company, or any sector, they have to abide by Indian law,” Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnav told ANI on Tuesday.
The Indian government had earlier said it had not complied with requests from major social media companies, including Twitter, to remove the content. Later last month, India’s information technology ministry warned that legal action would be taken against Twitter.
The Indian government can block any online content that speaks to national security and public order under their Information Technology Act. About 24 million people use Twitter in India.
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