India asks Twitter to delete some tweets criticizing its …
(Adds a comment from the White House)
By Kanishka Singh
April 26 (Reuters) – The Indian government has asked social media platform Twitter to delete dozens of tweets, including some from local lawmakers, which criticized its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, as cases of COVID- 19 again set a world record.
Twitter withheld some of the tweets after the Indian government’s legal request, a company spokesperson told Reuters on Saturday.
The government has issued an emergency order to censor the tweets, Twitter revealed on the Lumen database, a Harvard University project.
India’s information technology ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
In the government’s request, dated April 23 and leaked on Lumen, 21 tweets were mentioned. Among them were tweets from a lawmaker named Revnath Reddy, a West Bengal state minister named Moloy Ghatak and a filmmaker named Avinash Das.
In its request, the government cited the 2000 Information Technology Act, according to Lumen. Reuters was unable to independently confirm Lumen’s information.
India has in the past used the Information Technology Act to block information in an attempt to protect “the sovereignty and integrity of India” and to maintain public order, among other things. .
Last June, India invoked the IT law to ban the TikTok video app and 58 other Chinese apps, claiming they were damaging to India’s sovereignty and integrity as well. than “state security and public order”.
India and Twitter locked their horns in February when the U.S. social media giant failed to fully comply with a government order to remove more than 1,100 accounts and posts that New Delhi said were spreading false information about the demonstrations by farmers against new agricultural reforms. Twitter subsequently blocked access to most of the accounts it was ordered to delete, a source at the IT ministry told Reuters.
“When we receive a valid legal request, we will consider it in accordance with both Twitter rules and local law,” the Twitter spokesperson said on Saturday in an emailed statement.
“If the content violates Twitter’s rules, the content will be removed from the service. If it is found to be illegal in a particular jurisdiction, but without breaking Twitter’s rules, we may deny access to the content in India only,” she said. said.
The spokesperson confirmed that Twitter had informed account holders directly of the retention of their content and let them know that it had received a legal order regarding their tweets.
When asked about the request, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday: “It would certainly not be in line with our view of free speech around the world.”
The development was reported earlier by tech news website TechCrunch, which said Twitter was not the only platform affected by the order.
India is in the throes of a second wave of the pandemic, reaching a rate of one death from COVID-19 in just under every four minutes in Delhi as the capital’s underfunded health system collapses. Critics are growing that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s federal government and state authorities have not adequately prepared to deal with the crisis.
Some health experts said India became complacent in the winter when new cases were running at around 10,000 a day and appeared to be under control. Authorities lifted restrictions, allowing the resumption of large rallies, including major festivals and political rallies for local elections.
India’s health minister said earlier this month that activities such as elections, religious rallies and the lack of masks at receptions such as weddings had contributed to an increase in the number of cases.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler, Susan Fenton and Sonya Hepinstall)
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