Microblogging site Twitter on Friday, June 25, accepted that it 'locked out' Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and MP Shashi Tharoor and denied access to their accounts under the pretext of them violating the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
What happened to the Ministers?
The IT Minister was denied access to his account for almost an hour and this sprung up yet another debate between the microblogging site and the minister, who had called out Twitter for not abiding by the new IT Rules. He called Twitter's action arbitrary. After the IT Minister, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor alleged that even he was denied access to his account over copyright infringement. Tharoor, who is the chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, said that he will be seeking an explanation from Twitter India over the brief locking of his and Ravi Shankar Prasad's account.
After his account was locked out, the IT minister took to Indian microblogging platform Koo and wrote, "Friends! Something highly peculiar happened today. Twitter denied access to my account for almost an hour on the alleged ground that there was a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of the USA and subsequently they allowed me to access the account," he said. He said the microblogging site subsequently allowed him to access the account.
After regaining access to his account, Ravi Shankar Prasad called out Twitter's actions and pointed out that they were in gross violation of Rule 4(8) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 since they failed to provide any prior notice before denying him access to my own account.
Ravi Shankar Prasad adds in the Twitter report, "Twitter's actions "indicate that they are not the harbinger of free speech that they claim to be but are only interested in running their own agenda, with the threat that if you do not toe the line they draw, they will arbitrarily remove you from their platform".
Twitter confirmed that it barred the IT minister from accessing his account. In a statement, Twitter said, "We can confirm that the Honourable Minister's account access was temporarily restricted due to a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notice only and the referenced tweet has been withheld."
The microblogging site defended itself, saying that they respond to valid copyright complaints sent to them by copyright owners or their representatives as per their copyright policy.
In this case, the complaint was against the IT Minister by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) on behalf of Sony Music Entertainment on May 24,2021. IFPI had approached Twitter over an alleged copyright violation when the IT Minister shared AR Rahman's popular number 'Maa Tujhe Salaam'.
Twitter mentioned that the communication from IPFI to Twitter was classified as a "DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notice. DMCA is a US intellectual Property law that many online platforms follow to suspend or ban accounts.