Twitter weighs legal options, engages with govt over non-compliance notice




said Wednesday it was exploring options under Indian law and continues to engage with the government in response to the non-compliance notice served on it by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.


In a blog post, the microblogging service, which has come under fire from Indian authorities for not complying with content blocking orders related to ongoing farmer protests, explained the actions it has taken in response to the government’s legal requests.



It said that MeitY served with several blocking orders under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act over the past ten days.


“Out of these, two were emergency blocking orders that we temporarily complied with, but subsequently restored access to the content in a manner that we believe was consistent with Indian law. After we communicated this to MeitY, we were served with a non-compliance notice,” the blog post by Safety said.


Twitter further explained it has taken steps to reduce the visibility of the hashtags containing harmful content, which included prohibiting them from trending on Twitter and appearing as recommended search terms.


The government had asked Twitter to take down content with the hashtag #ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide citing possible disruption to public law and order because of the word “genocide”.


“We took a range of enforcement actions — including permanent suspension in certain cases — against more than 500 accounts escalated across all MeitY orders for clear violations of Twitter’s rules,” the blog stated.


It further said it has withheld a portion of the accounts identified in the blocking orders under its Country Withheld Content Policy, preventing the content from being visible in India only. These will be visible outside the country.


“Because we do not believe that the actions we have been directed to take are consistent with Indian law, and, in keeping with our principles of defending protected speech and freedom of expression, we have not taken any action on accounts that consist of news media entities, journalists, activists, and politicians. To do so, we believe, would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law. We informed MeitY of our enforcement actions today, February 10, 2021. We will continue to maintain dialogue with the Indian government and respectfully engage with them,” Twitter said.


As a fallout of these issues, some ministers and MeitY have moved to an Indian Twitter alternative called Koo, and have also urged people to get on the platform.


In response to the blog, MeitY put out an interim statement on its account on Koo: “Upon the request of Twitter seeking a meeting with the Govt., the Secretary IT was to engage with senior management of Twitter. In this light a blog post published prior to this engagement is unusual. Govt. will share its response soon,” it said.


Twitter weighs legal options, engages with govt over non-compliance notice


Twitter said it has taken steps to reduce the visibility of hashtags containing harmful content, which included prohibiting them from trending on Twitter and appearing as recommended search terms


Neha Alawadhi


New Delhi, February 10


Twitter said Wednesday it was exploring options under Indian law and continues to engage with the government in response to the non-compliance notice served on it by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.


In a blog post, the microblogging service, which has come under fire from Indian authorities for not complying with content blocking orders related to ongoing farmer protests, explained the actions it has taken in response to the government’s legal requests.


It said that MeitY served Twitter with several blocking orders under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act over the past ten days.


“Out of these, two were emergency blocking orders that we temporarily complied with, but subsequently restored access to the content in a manner that we believe was consistent with Indian law. After we communicated this to MeitY, we were served with a non-compliance notice,” the blog post by Twitter Safety said.


Twitter further explained it has taken steps to reduce the visibility of the hashtags containing harmful content, which included prohibiting them from trending on Twitter and appearing as recommended search terms.


The government had asked Twitter to take down content with the hashtag #ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide citing possible disruption to public law and order because of the word “genocide”.


“We took a range of enforcement actions — including permanent suspension in certain cases — against more than 500 accounts escalated across all MeitY orders for clear violations of Twitter’s rules,” the blog stated.


It further said it has withheld a portion of the accounts identified in the blocking orders under its Country Withheld Content Policy, preventing the content from being visible in India only. These will be visible outside the country.


“Because we do not believe that the actions we have been directed to take are consistent with Indian law, and, in keeping with our principles of defending protected speech and freedom of expression, we have not taken any action on accounts that consist of news media entities, journalists, activists, and politicians. To do so, we believe, would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law. We informed MeitY of our enforcement actions today, February 10, 2021. We will continue to maintain dialogue with the Indian government and respectfully engage with them,” Twitter said.


As a fallout of these issues, some ministers and MeitY have moved to an Indian Twitter alternative called Koo, and have also urged people to get on the platform.


In response to the blog, MeitY put out an interim statement on its account on Koo: “Upon the request of Twitter seeking a meeting with the Govt., the Secretary IT was to engage with senior management of Twitter. In this light a blog post published prior to this engagement is unusual. Govt. will share its response soon,” it said.






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