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Business News/ News / India/  39 blocking orders and more: Twitter challenges India to court. Read here

Twitter is challenging a series of account-blocking and suspension orders in the Karnataka High Court, clashing once more with the Indian government that’s sought to rein in US tech giants.

The US company has filed a legal petition to overturn around 39 blocking orders, arguing they’ve been too broad and arbitrary. 

The social network operator complied with the orders under protest, but now seeks a ruling from the Karnataka court to set them aside, according to a Bloomberg report.

The company's attempt to get a judicial review of the orders is part of a growing confrontation with the national capital.

Twitter is challenging the Indian government’s content blocking orders for the first time. The San Francisco-based firm and the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have repeatedly clashed in recent months as the government seeks to gain greater control over online information censorship.

Twitter argued that account-level blocking is a disproportionate measure and the government didn’t give proper reasons for requests to bar content, which was often political and from public figures. It’s challenging just a sliver of the overall blocking orders it’s received since February 2021, covering more than 1,400 accounts, 175 tweets and one hashtag, according to the report.

The US company isn’t challenging the laws that give government powers to order content blocking, nor rules that can hold executives at social media operators like Meta Platforms Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google personally liable for failure, and even arrested. But Twitter’s attempt to resist the administration is significant given a history of clashes.

The company started to push back against the government’s directives in May this year when it sought reversal of some of the orders. About a month later, the ministry issued notices asking Twitter officials to appear in person and explain why action shouldn’t be initiated against them, the person said, citing the content of the petition. 

Twitter complied but more notices followed. The government did agree to withdraw its orders for 10 accounts, but sought blocking of another 27 online links. Twitter again acceded, but lodged its complaint on July 5, the report added.

"Be it any company, in any sector, they should abide the laws of India," India's IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told ANI on Tuesday, responding to questions about Twitter's legal move.

The government has previously said that big social media firms, including Twitter, have not complied with removal requests, despite their legal standing.

In a filing with the top court in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, Twitter argued that some removal orders fell short of the procedural requirements of India's IT act, the source said, without specifying which ones it wanted reviewed.

The IT act allows the government to block public access to content in the interest of national security, among other reasons.

Twitter, which market research firms say has nearly 24 million users in India, also argues in its filing that some of the orders failed to give notice to authors of the content.

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Updated: 07 Jul 2022, 02:43 PM IST
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