Twitter's attempt to get a judicial review is seen as part of its growing confrontation with New Delhi
Social media giant Twitter has gone to court, challenging orders to take down content amid an escalating face-off with the government. Calling some orders arbitrary, Twitter sought a judicial review. The Centre reiterated that the law must be obeyed.
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"In India, all incldng foreign Internet intermediaries/platforms have right to court n judicial review. But equally ALL intermediary/platforms operating here, have unambiguous obligation to comply with our laws n rules (sic)," tweeted Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar.
In its petition to the Karnataka High Court today, Twitter said the government wanted a block on some content posted by political parties' handles. This, Twitter contended, amounts to violation of Freedom of speech.
In others cases, the user was not notified, said Twitter, which has more than 24 million users in India.
The US-based micro-blogging site's attempt to get a judicial review of disputed content is seen as part of its confrontation with the government. Twitter has largely not complied with government orders to take down content.
On June 28, the government wrote to Twitter asking it to comply with the orders by July 4, saying it will otherwise lose its legal shield as an intermediary.
Losing the legal shield would mean that Twitter executives could be fined and jailed for upto seven years in cases of IT law violation by users. Twitter responded by challenging some of the blocking orders in court.
The new IT rules make social media platforms more accountable for third-party content. They also mandate hiring Indian grievance and compliance officers, and coordinate with law enforcement agencies over content removal.
"Social media accountability has become a valid question globally. It is important to hold it accountable, which will first start with self-regulation, then industry regulation, followed by government regulation," Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishaw was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The tweets the government wanted blocked are linked to farmers' protest and the handling of the Covid pandemic. The government alleged the posts were spreading misinformation. The block list also included accounts created in support of an independent Sikh state.
Twitter, which has already faced backlash in India for blocking accounts of influential people -- including politicians -- said it is committed to principles of openness, and transparency.