In a meeting with Twitter the Indian government expressed its dissatisfaction on Twitter’s response over its orders to block accounts of those who are spreading fake information and provocative content relating to farmers’ protests. The government also told the microblogging site that as working entity in India it should follow and respect the Indian laws despite its own rules and guidelines.
“Lawfully passed orders are binding on any business entity. They must be obeyed immediately. If they are executed days later, it becomes meaningless,” said the IT ministry in its statement.
Comparing the treatment it given to India with its crackdown of accounts in US during the violence in Washington’s Capitol Hill, the government said the “differential treatment” is “very disappointing”.
A legal battle may emerge between the government and the Twitter on the basis of earlier notices to the social media giant under section 69A of the IT Act, which means fines or jail for non-compliance. However, the sources told, “If they wish to contest then they are free to approach the court for redressal”.
Responding to the ministry Twitter said that the government orders were inconsistent with the Indian law, but it will restrict the access for those account in the Indian origin instead banning completely.
Following that the microblogging site has restricted access to over 500 accounts within India but has refused to block accounts of “news media entities, journalists, activists and politicians” for maintaining the freedom of expression.
On Twitter’s citation of keeping up with the freedom of expression, the IT ministry told Twitter that in Indian constitution the freedom of expressions is not absolute as it deals with certain restrictions also.
Giving the example of Supreme Court judgements regarding the dealing with freedom of expression with certain restrictions the government said, “Twitter is welcome to do business in India – Twitter, as a business entity working in India, must also respect the Indian laws and democratic institutions. Twitter is free to formulate its own rules and guidelines, like any other business entity does, but Indian laws which are enacted by the Parliament of India must be followed irrespective of Twitter’s own rules and guidelines”.
“A deep sense of disappointment at seeing Twitter side not with ‘freedom of expression’ but rather with those who seek to abuse such freedom and provoke disturbance to public order, was conveyed to the Twitter representative,” a statement read in the meeting.