The microblogging site Twitter claimed before the Karnataka High Court on Monday (September 26) that the government had asked it to block accounts rather than just a tweet deemed inappropriate due to its political content.
As a platform, it was impacted by the Centre's request that it remove accounts without notifying the alleged violators, according to Twitter.
High Court Heard A Petition Filed ByTwitter
The High Court heard a petition from Twitter challenging the Central Government's orders to block certain accounts, URLs, and tweets. Many of the tweets requested to be blocked as "innocuous."
Twitter had challenged the orders on the grounds of infringement on free speech and the authorities' failure to notify the alleged violators before ordering the platform to remove content.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) filed a 101-page objection to Twitter's petition on September 1. Twitter's senior advocate, Arvind Datar, argued the company was following the rules outlined in the Information Technology Act. He claimed that the Centre's request to take down accounts without notifying the alleged violators harmed Twitter as a platform.
Statements Made By Twitter During Hearing
According to Datar, the Centre requested wholesale account blocking, which would have a negative impact on its business. He stated that several prominent people have Twitter accounts.
Another point raised by Datar was that instead of blocking the inappropriate tweet, it was advised to stop the account itself due to political content. He cited a farmers' protest in Delhi against previously contentious farm laws and claimed that content broadcast in the news media was requested to be blocked on the microblogging site.
As per NDTV, he contended, "During the farmers' protest I was told to block accounts. TV and print media are reporting. Why ask me to block accounts,"
Datar cited the Supreme Court's decision in the 'Shreya Singhal' case, in which the IT Act Blocking Rules were upheld, and stated that notices must be issued even to intermediaries such as Twitter and heard before blocking orders are issued. As a result, he claimed that all MeitY blocking orders violated the Supreme Court's decision and IT Act Blocking Rules 6 and 8.
The senior advocate cited an example of a specific blocking order in which Twitter was instructed to block 1,178 accounts. The government did not notify them (account holders), and Twitter was not permitted to inform them of the action.
Datar claimed that Section 69A of the IT Act was not followed. He gave the example of a tweet that was removed by the government. He contended that Twitter itself blocks inappropriate tweets, and Twitter has blocked tweets promoting "Khalistan."
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