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Government considers arrest of Twitter officials for non-compliance | India News

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NEW DELHI: Top Twitter executives in India may be arrested if the Center makes clear that its list of accounts wanted for censorship for “inflammatory content”, especially those with the farmer genocide hashtag, was “non-negotiable”, and warning that his patience was wearing thin due to the company’s refusal to follow the dictation given in Section 69A of the IT Act.
The US microblogging giant, which partially followed the order by deleting around half of the accounts the government intended to block, can now go to court as it maintains ground in defending the “right to freedom.” free expression on behalf of the people we serve ”.
During a meeting with Twitter executives Monique Meche and Jim Baker on Wednesday, the Union’s IT secretary, Ajay Prakash Sawhney, made it clear that the use of the controversial hashtag was neither journalistic freedom nor freedom of speech, as such “Irresponsible content could provoke and inflame” the situation. He also expressed his disgust at Twitter’s differential treatment in its handling of the issues on Capitol Hill and Red Fort.
“Twitter has to follow orders. It is not a matter of negotiation. It is the law of the land and if someone has a problem with any action we have taken … You are free to resort legally, “said a government source.
The Center believes that Twitter compliance should be immediate. “If they do it reluctantly or reluctantly, or after 10-12 days of our orders, it’s not really a case of compliance.”
Earlier in the day, Twitter said, “… in accordance with our principles of defending freedom of expression and protected freedom of expression, we have not taken any action on accounts consisting of media entities, journalists, activists, and politicians. . We believe that doing so would violate their fundamental right to freedom of expression under Indian law. ”Twitter’s request for a meeting with the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, was rejected and the government did not take that Twitter kindly. made public.
“At Twitter’s request to seek a meeting with the government, Secretary Sawhney had to engage with the top management of Twitter. In this sense, a blog post published before this engagement is unusual, ”the IT ministry said at Koo, a recently launched Indian social media app.
The meeting, which was initially postponed, finally took place late at night and the government argued that the company should act, “and immediately”, since the censored accounts had violated the country’s law, including the 257 handlers who tweeted with the hashtag #ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide.
Twitter is said to have blocked only 126 of these accounts. Some of the accounts mentioned by the government here include Caravan magazine (@thecaravanindia), Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Mohammad Salim (@salimdotcomrade), activist Hansraj Meena (@HansrajMeena), Kisan Ekta Morcha (@Kisanektamorcha ) and BKU Ekta Urgahan (@Bkuektaugrahan).
On the other hand, of the 1,178 handcuffs that the government suspected of having links with Khalistani and Pakistani elements to spread disinformation and provocative content, a total of 583 have been deactivated.
But the government is not satisfied with the action, and a senior official said the option of arresting some of the company’s executives for failing to comply with legal provisions was being considered.
High-ranking sources in the Ministry of Information Technology accused Twitter of “making commercial and business profit by allowing the handles of those who were spreading poisonous speech” in the name of freedom of expression.
The government told the company that any entity operating in India “must be respectful of the democratic nature” of our policy. “We are a democracy and we follow the constitutional provisions and laws that have been promulgated after an exhaustive debate in Parliament. We cannot allow the self-created provisions of a private company to take precedence over the laws of our country. We ask you to be respectful of the sensitivity of our country and not to violate the legal provisions that govern life in India. ”
Twitter, however, has remained firm so far, although it added that it will continue negotiations with the government. “We will continue to maintain dialogue with the government of India and respectfully engage with them. We will continue to advocate for the right to free expression on behalf of the people we serve. We are exploring options under Indian law, both for Twitter and for the accounts that have been affected. We remain committed to safeguarding the health of the conversation that occurs on Twitter and we strongly believe that Tweets should flow. ”
The company said it has already taken a series of enforcement actions, including permanent suspension in certain cases, against more than 500 accounts escalated by the IT ministry. “Separately today, we have held a portion of the accounts identified in the blocking orders under our policy of content held by countries only within India. These accounts are still available outside of India. ”
The company further said that beginning on January 26 (the day farmers indulged in violence in the national capital), its global team provided 24/7 coverage and took action on judicious and impartial compliance with content, trends, tweets and accounts that were in violation. of the ‘Twitter Rules’. “We took action on hundreds of accounts that violated the Twitter Rules, in particular by inciting violence, abuse, wishes to harm and threats that could trigger the risk of harm offline.”

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