Indian government threatens to impose fines and imprisonment for up to seven years return hundreds of accounts ordered the company to ban. Many accounts were against the country’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
On Monday, Twitter complied with a government order and barred Indians from accessing more than 250 accounts of activists, politicians, a film expert, and the Caravan, a research magazine said. Several accounts have criticized Modi, India’s patriotic Indian Prime Minister and his government. But the company reinstated the accounts six hours after the Twitter lawyer met with IT officials, saying the tweets and accounts were free to speak and had issues.
The Indian government did not agree. On Tuesday, the IT ministry sent a message to Twitter, ordering it to block accounts. It also threatened Twitter operators in India on charges, which could include a fine and imprisonment for up to seven years.
“This is a real challenge,” said Nikhil Pahwa, editor of MediaNama, a webinar, and an online rights activist. “I don’t know why the Indian government should visit this section in an attempt to ban tweets when they have serious problems.”
A Twitter spokesman declined to comment. An IT ministry spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
This move puts the company in a difficult position. Banning the accounts also means they are being accused of involvement in violence in India, while anti-government protests run the country. But allowing accounts to remain on the platform means placing political and legitimate influence on the big market.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the government said the accounts were “spreading lies about demonstrations” and had “the potential to spark violence that brings peace to the country.” The BuzzFeed article reviewed the information.
The devastation comes just days after thousands of Indian farmers, who have been on strike for months to protest against a change in agricultural practices, are said to have stormed a police barracks and seized Red Fort, a Mughal monument in New Delhi on January 26., Republic of India Day. One opponent he says he died. Delhi police he refuses to participate in this work.
In a statement, the government said the accounts used a hashtag that was “found to incite people to commit crimes of public interest and for the protection of the State.”
Although travelers did not use the hashtag, the government said that “news and journalists” spread lies, which in turn “influenced” people and created “public order.”
A Caravan spokesman told BuzzFeed News that their journalism was fair and professional. “We do not understand why the Indian government suddenly finds that journalists should not speak in all directions,” the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Vinod K. Jose, told BuzzFeed News.
Indian law prohibits Twitter from sharing the rules it received on Monday, but according to Tuesday’s statement from the government, the company struggled. The document states that Twitter did not close the accounts until 24 hours after receiving the first order, and did so just minutes before the Twitter lawyer met with government officials on Tuesday.
“It is clear that the malicious tweets / hashtags remained in the public domain and must have been sent and re-posted several times at the risk and cost of public safety and at risk of criminal prosecution,” the sign reads.
According to the statement, Twitter also sent a response to the government when it met with officials who refused to “follow and obey” the law. According to Indian law, the announcement says, Twitter should follow.
The government also refused to oppose Twitter’s idea of ”freedom of speech”, claiming that the company did not have “any rules, regulations or rules” for interpreting free speech in accordance with Indian law.
Twitter also said there was “no reason” to ban all accounts and that the government should order that any tweets be blocked. In response, a government statement said it was not Twitter’s place to appeal to the government.
Between the Act and Section 69A, India’s IT legal issue that allows the federal government to ask for platforms like Twitter not to restrict “any information, provided, received, stored or stored on any computer” that could disrupt “public order.” Platforms like Twitter are not they are required to comply with the rules, and they are not allowed to make such rules in public.
“I hope the case goes to court,” said Pahwa, the founder of MediaNama, “because I believe that, obviously, the government will drop the case.”