Twitter started legal proceedings against the Indian governmentwho challenges many of the government’s guidelines to block access to certain posts on its microblogging platform.
The company said in a lawsuit it filed Tuesday in the Karnataka High Court in Bengaluru that New Delhi had abused its authority by instructing it to arbitrarily and disproportionately remove posts from its platform.
It argued that some of the ban orders relate to political material uploaded by official political party accounts.
“Blocking such information is a violation of the freedom of expression guaranteed to the citizen users of the platform. Further, the content in question has no apparent direct relationship to the grounds under Section 69A,” Twitter stated:†
In addition, Twitter said some of the blocking orders failed to notify content creators.
The company said New Delhi threatened to sue its highest-ranking compliance officer in India if the company failed to comply with the guidelines.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology issued a final warning to Twitter on June 27 and set a compliance deadline of July 4.
This week, Twitter complied with the majority of requests made under the Information Technology Act, 2000, to maintain its status as an intermediary in the country.
If the company had lost its intermediary status, it would have been legally responsible for all comments posted on the platform.
The IT law gives the federal government the power to restrict public access to specific content for a variety of reasons, including protecting the security of the country.
Twitter’s bid to get a judicial review of the government’s orders follows a difficult year and a half in India.
It’s been asked several times already to delete hundreds of accounts and tweetsincluding those in support of an independent Sikh state, those allegedly used to spread false information about farmers’ protests, and those critical of how the government handled the Covid-19 pandemic.
Twitter partially agrees with the demands, while trying to fight back against many of the challenges.
Last year, Twitter angered the Indian government by rejecting its request to delete more than 1,100 accounts and posts that the government said were spreading misinformation about farmers’ protests.
The company said it was unable to fully comply with the government’s orders as it believed they were inconsistent with Indian law.
While the company suspended some accounts, those of journalists, activists, politicians and news media were not removed, in line with its policy of defending free speech.