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Source: Business Standard

Twitter ‘complied under protest’ with MeitY’s blocking orders: Petition
Twitter argues that government did not test the content it wanted blocked in the context of the class of readers

Twitter logo depicted in on a screen
Twitter ‘compiled under protest’ with MeitY’s blocking orders: Petition.
Source: The Times of India

Social media platform Twitter claims that it has ‘complied under protest’ with recent orders which the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology – MeitY issued to block 39 particular accounts. At the time of many meeting with MeitY, the executives ‘placed on record’ that several orders did not comply with the law. The petition filed by Twitter in the Karnataka High Court stated this.

According to petition against the Indian government, Twitter claims that the 39 specific URLs, that MeitY wanted Twitter to block, did not meet requirements of the Information Technology Act’s Section 69 A. It termed the orders as ‘overboard and disproportionate,’ requesting the court for a judicial review, and finally set the orders aside. The social media company stated how MeitY showed ‘non-application’ when it came to this judgement regarding the URLs ministry wanted blocked.

There had visibly been an increase in the content being removed from the platform. This increase came following MeitY’s notices sent on June 4 and 6 claiming that Twitter had been non-compliant with IT Rules 2021. Another notice came on June 27, giving the it ‘one last’ chance to comply with Section 69 A requirement.

In the meetings, the social media platform argued that the order from MeitY were not in sync with the requirements, requesting reconsideration. Subsequently,Twitter reiterated in following meetings that the order was not compliant with the IT Act, urging MeitY to reconsider.  Though it withdrew about 10 orders of account removals, it sent Twitter another URL list to block, seeking immediate response.

Twitter’s treatment of the 39 URLs:

The microblogging site submitted details of these URLS to the court, in a sealed cover to maintain confidentiality. Twitter, however, stated in the petition these URLS were accounts, indicating many of these users were ‘identifiable public figures’ Moreover, the petition stated how these users had not been informed about the development, and how the government ordered the blockage of 1474 accounts and 175 tweets in a year.

Twitter argues how MeitY did not provide reasons as to how any of these accounts were exactly in violation of Section 69A. The petition also stated how blocking such posts would violate freedom of speech as it contained ‘journalistic and political’ material.

Moreover, Twitter sated that the IT Act’s Section 69A did not extend to the blockage of accounts, and the content MeitY wanted suspended did not necessarily meet the requirements of Section 69A. It presented the request to the Karnataka High Court of quashing various blocking orders that date back to last year.