Twitter has filed a lawsuit against the Indian government challenging a recent order requiring it to ban accounts and remove certain content, with officials insisting it must obey the law.
Filed in the Karnataka High Court in Bangalore on Tuesday, Twitter’s complaint alleges that the government’s order constitutes “an attack on the freedom of expression guaranteed to citizen-users of the platform”, and is not supported by current regulations, according to TechCrunch.
Twitter was given a deadline on Monday to remove dozens of accounts and posts, and although a company spokesperson told The New York Times it had complied, the legal challenge soon followed. after.
The government responded to Twitter’s new lawsuit at a press conference on Tuesday, with Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw insisting “It is everyone’s responsibility to respect the laws passed by the country’s parliament.”
Last year, the Indian government passed a law giving authorities more surveillance powers over social media, allowing officials to order the removal of material deemed problematic, including alleged misinformation and hate speech. If platforms refuse to comply, they risk losing their liability protections, meaning they could be sued for what users post.
Although Twitter has largely cooperated with these orders, it has also raised concerns about the “potential threat to freedom of expression” the rules could implicate and publicly feud with officials, who she said were enforcing the laws “arbitrarily and disproportionately”.
The latest lawsuit follows a similar legal challenge from WhatsApp, which also pushed back against tougher Indian social media regulations after being told it would be forced to do private messages. “traceable” for law enforcement on request. Although this case is still pending, the government has argued that privacy rights are not “absolute” and “subject to reasonable restrictions”.
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