Twitter says it won’t stop journalists, activists and politicians in India from protecting free speech

Twitter has told the Indian government that it will not restrict accounts belonging to journalists, activists and politicians in India, despite receiving an order from the country’s federal government. However, this prevents an unspecified number of accounts that do not fit into these categories from being able to be viewed internally in the country.

In one blog post Released on Tuesday, the company said that while it was withholding some accounts the Indian government wanted to block, it was not blocking others as it would violate free speech.

“Because we do not believe that the actions we have been asked to take are in accordance with Indian law and in accordance with our principles of defending protected speech and freedom of expression, we have taken no action on accounts that consist of new media. entities, journalists, activists and politicians, ”the Twitter blog said. “To do so, we believe, would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law.”

Twitter’s post comes amid a fight with the Indian government, a major market for the company, to restrict accounts on the platform. Earlier this month, the company limit people in India view more than 250 accounts in the country after receiving an emergency legal order from the Indian Ministry of IT. Among the blocked accounts were Caravan, an investigative news magazine; the criticisms of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi; and accounts tweeted in support of a months-long farmers’ protest rocking the country.

But Twitter reestablished the accounts six hours later, arguing with the Indian government that the accounts constituted free speech and deserved to be noted. In response, the government threat Twitter officials face a fine and up to seven years in prison for violating his order.

The deadlock with the Indian government has put Twitter in a difficult place. Blocking the accounts would mean allowing a crackdown on dissent, free speech and journalism by India’s increasingly authoritarian government. But to challenge the government is to risk legal consequences.

In the blog post Published Tuesday, Twitter said it had taken additional steps such as banning hashtags containing harmful content from the platform, which the government feared would cause real-world violence amid the protest, and suspending standing over 500 accounts for violating Twitter rules.

But the Publish Also says Twitter is seeking legal redress to restore some accounts it has restricted in the country.

“We will continue to defend the right to free speech on behalf of the people we serve and actively explore options under Indian law – both for Twitter and for the accounts that have been affected,” Twitter wrote. . “We remain committed to keeping the conversation healthy on Twitter and believe that Tweets should be delivered.”

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