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Twitter bars handles under pressure from Indian Govt, but says ‘block orders not consistent with Indian Law’

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Government of India reportedly pitching ‘Koo’ as an alternative to Twitter

In response to a non-compliance notice from the Government of India, Twitter on Wednesday issued an update with a list of actions it has taken as a result of the blocking orders by the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act). 

The government of India had served an order to twitter to block handles it alleged were spreading “Khalistani Propaganda”.

Activists have said that it is part of a carckdown on the farmers protests happening in India.

Many handles, including news media handles like The Caravan were recently blocked by twitter on the order of the Government of India.

Out of the blocking orders by the Government of India, two of them were emergency blocking orders that Twitter claims to have temporarily complied with but were resorted access to the content in a manner it believes was consistent with Indian law. 

After having communicated this to Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Twitter said that it was served with a non-compliance notice and to “set the record straight”, it prepared a list of actions taken as a result of the blocking orders.

The list read that Twitter took 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.

Twitter Safety tweeted, “We have withheld some of the accounts identified in the blocking orders under our Country Withheld Content Policy within India only. These accounts continue to be available outside of India”.

It said that no action was taken against the accounts that consist of news media entities, journalists, activists, and politicians and that it will continue to advocate for the right of free expression on behalf of the people it serves. 

It further tweeted, “We’ve made it clear, around the world, that we strongly believe that the Tweets must flow”.

NDTV reported, “In an escalating confrontation, the government replied on ‘Koo’ – pitched as Twitter’s Indian rival.

Calling the blog ‘unusual’ after Twitter sought a meeting, the government said it would share its response soon.

Official sources say Twitter has to comply with the law of the land”. 

The update also mentioned the values that underpin the Open Internet and free expression increasingly being under threat around the globe. 

“Following the reports of violence in New Delhi in recent weeks, we wanted to share a granular update on our provocative efforts to enforce our rules and defend our principles in India. Twitter exists to empower voices to be heard, and we continue to make improvements to our services so that everyone — no matter their views or perspective — feels safe participating in the public conversation”, Twitter has said. 


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