On Monday, Twitter temporarily banned people in India from viewing multiple accounts of activists, political commentators, a popular movie star and a leading investigative journalism magazine. The mobile homeBy orders of the country’s government. All the accounts had one thing in common – they criticized the Hindu nationalist Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Twitter restored the accounts after more than six hours, telling government officials that the tweets and accounts constitute freedom of expression and are worth publishing.
The move comes during a crackdown on dissent in India and raises questions about the role American tech companies play there. In the past few weeks, authorities in India Foot Sedition cases against prominent journalists for covering farmers’ protests against the Modi government. During the weekend, the police in New Delhi, the capital of India, Arrested Two journalists, one of them, is still in detention.
Last week, protesters called for “shootings” at farmers Trending for hours On Twitter, the platform was flooded with thousands of tweets encouraging police brutality.
Among the most prominent accounts that Twitter has temporarily banned in the country are those that tweet updates from farmers’ protests, in addition to the caravan.
“Staff at Caravan feel that Twitter’s decision to block our official account is the latest in a long list of targeted attacks launched on the post to fearlessly pursue important stories,” Vinod K. Jose, the magazine’s executive editor, said one journalist who has been charged with incitement On the strife last week for BuzzFeed News.
After the convoy returned to Twitter, She tweeted“Our account has been restored. Today it is more evident than ever that real media needs real allies. We thank our readers, subscribers and contributors for their unwavering support.”
Twitter said in a statement: “Many countries have laws that may apply to tweets and / or Twitter account content. In our ongoing efforts to make our services available to people everywhere, if we receive a file Correctly request the scope locator from an authorized entityIn this regard, it may be necessary to block access to certain content in a specific country from time to time. Transparency is vital to protecting freedom of expression, so we have a policy of notice for blocked content. Upon receiving requests to block content, we will promptly notify affected account holders (unless we are prohibited from doing so, for example if we receive a sealed court order). “
Twitter blocks tweets and accounts, including in the United States, if it receives a “valid and properly scoped request from an authorized party,” according to the company. website. Usually these Tweets or accounts are visible in the rest of the world. The company says it “informs affected users immediately unless we are prohibited from doing so” and publishes the requests at LumensHarvard University Project.
But people whose accounts were temporarily banned in India said Twitter did not notify them before taking action.
“They didn’t contact me before taking action against my account,” Sanjukta Basu, a political commentator whose Twitter account has been blocked, told BuzzFeed News.
Jose said that Twitter did not notify the magazine before the account was banned, and did not hear from the company until an hour after the blocking. He said, “Twitter did not disclose the source of the legal removal request.”
BuzzFeed News has learned that the legal order came from the Indian Ministry of Information Technology under a Section A law that allows the government to order the removal of content considered a threat to national security, and which prevents companies like Twitter from disclosing information about blocking an account or tweet. The Ministry of Information Technology refused to issue an official statement.
Twitter confirmed that the requests came from India’s Ministry of Information Technology, but said it will not be uploaded to the Lumen database since the accounts have been unblocked.
The company finds itself caught between local laws and global human rights standards.
“Internet platforms need to ensure that any actions they take in response to government orders on content removal respect international human rights law standards,” said Raman Jeet Singh Shima, senior international adviser and director of Asia and the Pacific policy at Access Now, a non-profit Internet advocacy organization. BuzzFeed News said. “They must object to orders that go too far, or that explicitly seek to prevent media organizations from submitting reports.”
This could mean, even temporarily, actions that may seem out of place in other countries – actions that have generated sharp criticism.
“Can you imagine twitter peek at the New Yorker or The Atlantic account after a legal speech?” chirp Nicholas Dawes, executive editor of The City and former director of Human Rights Watch. “Implementing human rights-based standards for content stewardship on a global scale can be difficult, but this is a function that they are involved in.”