Twitter, in a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, has accused the Indian government of abuse of legislative power, in a bid to overturn content takedown orders from the central government.
Twitter has accused the Narendra Modi-led central government of using unwarranted power when it asked the American social media giant to take down several tweets and accounts. Many of the instances the government has seeked removal for, have been considered critiques of the currently ruling Bharatiya Janta Party Goverment. Both Twitter as well as IT Ministry of India have declined to comment on the situation.
Twitter has often found itself in defiance of the central government. They only partially complied with the government’s new IT rules introduced in February last year, requiring social media platforms to provide full discretion to the government and comply with any requests of content takedown, under national security concerns or other reasons.
In its filing, Twitter has mentioned that many of the government’s takedown orders were not followed by appropriate notices to content authors, and that some of these takedowns were of political content posted by rival political parties, removal of which would be in violation of Freedom of Speech.
The heated nature of dealing between Twitter and the Central Government reached peak temprature in May last year, when the company’s offices in New Delhi and Gurgaon were visited by the Delhi police, in order to get Twitter’s perspective over marking one of the BJP spokesperson’s tweet as “Manipulated Media”. Twitter had labelled the move as “intimidation” at the time, saying they have “concerns with regards to the use of intimidation tactics by the police in response to enforcement of our global Terms of Service, as well as with core elements of the new IT Rules.”
The Indian government has conveyed their intent to reconsider the new IT rules, including plans to create a Goverment-run appeals panel, which would hold the power to overturn the government’s takedown requests.
With the society increasingly noticing a polar difference in opinions on most social issues, Twitter has often found itself under backlash from both sides of the aisle, with the third being regional Goverment crackdowns. It remains to be seen how this lawsuit affects the ownership situation at Twitter HQ, with Elon Musk continually working to finalise his takeover.