Twitter has sued the Indian government over recent orders to take down certain tweets. The lawsuit, filed in the Karnataka High Court, challenges the government’s requests, stating that they violate “rights of users under the constitution.”
Twitter Files Lawsuit Against Indian Government
According to NDTV’s sources familiar with the filings, many of the blocking orders issued are “procedurally and substantively deficient” under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act. Section 69A allows the Central Government to block content that is believed to threaten the sovereignty, integrity, or defence of India or public order.
Twitter alleges that the government did not give notice to users. Moreover, it states that the blocking orders are politically motivated and do not meet the conditions specified under Section 69A. The microblogging platform adds, “Account-level blocking is a principally disproportionate measure and violates rights of users under the constitution.”
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The company notes, “Twitter has sought judicial review of some of the content that forms a part of various Blocking Orders on the above mentioned grounds and requested relief from the Court to set aside these Blocking Orders.”
Twitter’s move appears to come as a retort to recent feuds with the government of India. The company had recently received a formal letter from the government stating that Twitter could lose its “intermediary status” if it does not delete certain tweets. If it complies with the law, Twitter will not be held accountable for its users’ activities. However, failure to comply would open up the company to being liable for its users’ actions.
Indian Ministers React To Lawsuit
IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw defended the government’s move, saying that social media should be held accountable for its actions. “Social media accountability has become a valid question globally. It’s important to hold it accountable, which will first start with self-regulation, then industry regulation, followed by govt regulation,” said Vaishnaw.
Minister of State Rajeev Chandrasekhar stated that all foreign platforms are obligated to follow Indian laws, “All including foreign Internet intermediaries or platforms have the right to court and a judicial review. But equally ALL intermediary/platforms operating here, have unambiguous obligation to comply with our laws and rules.”