October 4, 2022

New Delhi (AFP) – Twitter on Tuesday challenged the Indian government to a court over its recent orders to remove some content on the social media platform, media reported.

The lawsuit was filed in the Karnataka High Court in the southern city of Bengaluru and comes after the Indian government in February warned the company’s executives to take criminal action if they failed to comply with takedown orders, the Press Trust of India and legal news site Bar and Bench reported.

Twitter spokesperson Aditi Shorewal declined to comment or specify what type of content the company was asked to block. It did not confirm that Twitter filed the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is part of a growing confrontation between Twitter and New Delhi after the Indian government last year passed a new set of sweeping regulations. Which gives it more power to monitor online content.

The new rules require companies to erase or block content that authorities consider illegal. Under the laws, employees of social media sites and technology companies can be held criminally liable for not complying with government orders.

“It is everyone’s responsibility to abide by the laws passed by the country’s parliament,” Indian Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnau told reporters on Tuesday when asked about the lawsuit.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has for years sought to control social media, often directing Twitter to delete tweets or accounts that appear critical of his party and administration.

Twitter has complied with most of these orders in the past but has also resisted others, calling the new rules a “potential threat to free speech”. The company has removed content related to farmers’ anti-government protests and tweets critical of the Modi administration’s handling of the pandemic.

The Indian government has called for the new rules needed to tackle disinformation, hate speech and other problems. Twitter officials have warned that failure to comply with the rules could mean the company will lose the protection of its liability as an intermediary, which means Twitter could face lawsuits over the content.

Relations between the Indian government and Twitter have been thorny since the laws were passed.

In May last year, the police raided the Twitter office After the company called Modi’s party spokesman’s tweet “manipulative media”.

In the same month, WhatsApp filed a lawsuit against the Indian government To defend what it said was its users’ privacy and to block new rules that would require it to make messages “trackable” to outside parties. This case is still pending in an Indian court.

Experts criticized the new rules They said they lived up to oversight. They also accused the Modi government of silencing criticism on social media, especially Twitter. Modi’s party denies this claim.

Last week, police in New Delhi arrested a journalist over a tweet from 2018 An anonymous Twitter user claimed to have hurt the feelings of a “certain religion”.

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