Twitter has asked an Indian court to overturn some government orders to remove content from the social media platform, a source familiar with the matter said, in a legal challenge alleging abuse of power by officials.
The US company’s attempt on Tuesday to obtain judicial review of the orders is part of a growing confrontation with New Delhi.
Indian authorities have asked Twitter over the past year to act on content, including accounts supporting an independent Sikh state, posts that have allegedly spread misinformation about farmer protests and tweets critical of the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Whether any business, in any sector, they must comply with the laws of India,” Indian IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told Reuters partner ANI on Tuesday in response to questions about Twitter’s legal move.
The IT Ministry did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.
The Indian government has previously said that large social media companies, including Twitter, have not complied with takedown requests, despite their legal status.
at the end of last month, Twitter was warned by the IT Ministry of Criminal Proceedings if you failed to comply with some orders. Twitter complied this week, the source said, so as not to lose available disclaimers like a lot of content.
In a filing with the high court in southern India’s Karnataka state, Twitter argued that some takedown orders did not meet the procedural requirements of India’s IT law, the source said, without specifying which ones it wanted removed. will be reviewed.
The IT law allows the government to block public access to content in the interest of national security, among other reasons.
Twitter, which according to market research firms has nearly 24 million users in India, also argues in its filing that some of the orders failed to notify the authors of the content.
It says some were related to political content posted by the official handles of political parties, the blocking of which amounts to a violation of freedom of expression, the source added.
All companies, including foreign social media intermediaries, have the right to go to court, IT Undersecretary Rajeev Chandrasekhar said in a tweet, hours after Twitter’s legal move, without naming the company.
“But equally ALL brokers/platforms operating here have an unequivocal obligation to comply with our laws and rules,” he said.
Tensions with the Indian government flared early last year when Twitter refused to fully comply with an order to remove accounts and posts that New Delhi said were spreading misinformation about farmers’ anti-government protests.
The company has also been the subject of police investigations in India, and in the past year many government ministers moved to the nationally developed Koo platformaccusing Twitter of breaching local laws.
Twitter has also faced backlash in India for blocking accounts of influential people, including politicians, citing violations of its policies.
India, which according to industry transparency reports has one of the highest government requests for content removal, is considering some amendments to its new IT rules, including the introduction of a government-run appeals panel with the power to reverse the content moderation decisions of social media companies. .
New Delhi has said such measures were necessary because the companies had violated the constitutional rights of Indians.