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Centre opposes Twitter’s petition questioning ‘take-down’ orders from MeitY

The Centre has objected to Twitter’s petition by stating that an intermediary platform should not be allowed to decide as to what tampers national security or public order issues

The Central government has opposed Twitter’s petition questioning several 'take down' orders issued by the Ministry of Electronic & IT (MeitY) related to content published on the platform.

Objecting to Twitter’s petition in the Karnataka High Court, the Centre stated, “When a public order issue arises, it is the government that is responsible to take action and not the platform. Hence, whether content will cause national security or public order issues or not should not be allowed to be determined by the platforms.”

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Furthermore, the Centre accused Twitter of being a ‘habitual non-compliant platform’ and that its petition is nothing but an attempt to challenge the compliance mandated under the law.

The Centre also highlighted that there had been several instances where Twitter had belatedly complied with the government orders, despite several blocking directions.

It stated, “Only on the diligent follow up of the Respondent No.2 (Government) and upon the issuance of show cause notice dated 27.06.2022 the Petitioner (Twitter) for reasons best known to it suddenly complied with all the blocking directions and then has challenged blocking directions for specific set of 39 URLs.”

Earlier in July, when the government issued a notice to Twitter to comply with all its past orders by July 4, the microblogging platform had approached the Karnataka HC to challenge some of the notices issued by the Indian government to take down content from its platform, citing abuse of power by officials.

On June 26, the microblogging site submitted a list of over 80 Twitter accounts and tweets that it has blocked based on a request from the government in 2021.

The request from the government was to block multiple accounts and some tweets from the international advocacy group Freedom House, journalists, politicians and supporters of the farmers' protest.

The government had earlier issued a notice to Twitter pointing out that in case it didn’t comply with their orders, Twitter might lose its intermediary status and then it could be held directly accountable for all that is posted on the platform.

These content take-down notices were sent to the micro-blogging platform under Section 69A of the IT Act, along with the non-compliance notices which were issued for not taking the content down from their platform.

According to the new Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code 2021 which was issued by MeitY, all intermediaries, including social media platforms must establish a grievance redressal mechanism for receiving and resolving complaints from the users or victims.

Recently, Twitter, in its India Transparency Report for the month of June, had also revealed that it had received over 1,500 complaints through its local grievance channels, out of which 115 grievances which appealed to account suspensions were resolved by the social media platform.

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