Twitter to challenge Indian government’s takedown orders in court

Twitter is seeking a “judicial review” of the Indian government’s order to take down content in a legal challenge that alleges abuse of power by officials.

A source familiar with the matter has said some of the content removal orders fell short of the requirements of India’s IT act, according to Reuters.

The social media giant has approached a high court in the south Indian state of Karnataka challenging some of the takedown orders, but it remains unclear which ones Twitter seeks to review.

Twitter has had a rough two years with the Indian IT ministry, which has asked the social media platform to take down hundreds of accounts and tweets.

Many of these tweets and accounts, critics have argued, were objected to since they were critical of the Indian government’s policies and prime minister Narendra Modi.

Twitter partially complied with some of these takedown requests but has sought to challenge many others.

Such takedown orders in recent weeks included those on posts by Indian journalist Rana Ayyub, a vocal critic of the Modi government, as well as the account of journalist and fact-checker Mohammad Zubair, who was recently arrested days after he brought to attention controversial remarks by the then ruling party spokesperson against prophet Muhammad.

Tweets by a US-based human rights watchdog Freedom House on declining internet freedom were also taken down in India in June.

Twitter documents available on the Lumen database suggest that the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has asked the platform to remove around 85 Twitter accounts and tweets in 2021, including those of farmer activists, Pakistani news outlets, journalists, and opposition members.

India is also considering changes to its IT rules, including the introduction of an appeals panel run by the government that could reverse content moderation decisions of social media platforms.

Twitter has not immediately responded to The Independent’s request for comments.