The government has sent a notice to Twitter for reinstating a number of accounts that were supporting the farmers’ protests despite the IT ministry directive to block these and warning it of consequences “of non-compliance of directions issued under section 69A of the Act”. Twitter had reinstated the accounts on Monday night after blocking dozens of accounts earlier in the day.
The 18-page noticestated that the “impracticability or the disproportionality of the said measure cannot be decided (by) Twitter which is an intermediary bound by the orders of the Central Government.”
Around 100 Twitter accounts and 150 tweets related to the farmers’ protests went off the microblogging platform on Monday morning as the IT Ministry directed Twitter to remove these accounts under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act. However, the accounts were unblocked late Monday night after a meeting with IT Ministry officials.
Sources in Twitter told: “Pending our discussions with the regulatory authorities, we temporarily withheld these accounts in India under our Country Withheld Content policy in response to a valid legal request from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. During our subsequent meetings with the officials, Twitter conveyed that the accounts and Tweets in question constitute free speech and are newsworthy. Therefore, these Tweets and accounts have now been unwithheld. Protecting public conversation and Transparency is fundamental to the work we do at Twitter.”
After Twitter initially complied with the order, officials of the company and the Ministry met on Monday evening in which the social media platform argued that the content was “free speech” and “newsworthy”.
Among the accounts that were suspended include those of Kisan Ekta Morcha and Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan), The Caravan magazine, Prasar Bharti CEO Sashi Shekhar Vempati, Aam Aadmi Party MLA Jarnail Singh, CPI(M) leader Md Salim, activist Hansraj Meena, and actor Sushant Singh.