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    Twitter drags government to court, challenges content takedown orders

    technology | IST

    Twitter drags government to court, challenges content takedown orders

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    In a strongly-worded notice to Twitter on June 27, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) had red flagged repeated cases of the company's alleged lack of action on takedown orders. Twitter has argued in its plea that the government's use of power to issue takedown orders is excessive and disproportionate.

    On the receiving end of the government's ire for failing to act as per content takedown orders, Twitter has decided to respond by moving the judiciary. Twitter filed a plea before the Karnataka High Court, challenging the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology's (MEITY) orders for suspending tweets and accounts.
    In a strongly-worded notice to Twitter on June 27, MEITY had red flagged repeated cases of the company's alleged lack of action on takedown orders. As per the notice, the government had warned Twitter that failure to act on takedown orders by July 4, would put the social media company at risk of losing protection under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act.
    Protection under Section 79 is critical for social media companies as it protects them from being held liable for content put out by the users. Section 79 reads, “An intermediary shall not be liable for any third party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted by him.”
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    Aggrieved by the government's orders and notice, Twitter has argued in its plea that the government's use of power to issue takedown orders is excessive and disproportionate.
    As per Twitter, MEITY is authorised to issue directions for suspending accounts and tweets under Section 69A. But, the plea in HC argues that this power can be used only in cases involving national security, public order and incitement to offences. Twitter has submitted that several suspension orders by the government had no relation to national security, public order or incitement to an offence.
    Twitter has also submitted that the IT Rules provide for a review of takedown orders. The plea argues that the government has tried to enforce suspension orders even while the review is pending, making the orders procedurally deficient.
    Another concern raised in the plea is the possible violation of right to free speech. The plea argues that the current framework, provides no notice or hearing to content creators before taking down the tweet or account.
    The Twitter plea also points towards arbitrariness of government orders where it has been asked to disable user accounts for a single tweet or post.
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