Twitter is fighting the Indian government’s order to take down content in court.
Sources said that the social media giant has filed a petition with the high court in Karnataka state to fight “several” of these orders.
Twitter was responding to a letter from the government in June that said not following such orders could lead to “serious consequences.”
One guess is that there are more than 24 million Twitter users in India.
A federal minister named Rajeev Chandrasekhar tweeted that all foreign Internet platforms had to follow Indian laws a few hours after the petition was filed.
According to people who know about the situation, the government told Twitter in June that it was their “last chance” to follow a number of blocking orders.
They are covered by India’s law on information technology, which lets the government block online content that, among other things, “threatens the security of the state” and “public order.”
They said that Twitter went to court because of how “serious” the threats were and because breaking the law could lead to criminal proceedings.
The social media giant thinks that the orders “substantially and procedurally fall short” of what the law requires, and sources say that many of them “show an excessive use of power and are out of proportion.”
In some cases, for example, people want their whole accounts shut down, the sources said. And content posted by “official handles of political parties” could be on more than one account.
This is the latest step in a long-running fight between Twitter and the government of India, which is led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Over the past year, the government has asked the biggest social media company to take down tweets and block accounts, citing concerns about public order. There are accounts and tweets about the large protests by farmers last year, as well as tweets that are critical of how the government is handling the pandemic.
During the farmers’ protests, the government sent a legal notice to Twitter, which blocked about 250 accounts for a short time. The notice said that the objections were against public order.
These included stories from an investigative news magazine, activists, and groups that helped support the protests on the outskirts of Delhi that went on for months.
But Twitter unblocked the accounts in six hours, saying there was “insufficient reason” to keep them down.
In February of last year, Twitter was told that it was welcome to do business in India, but it had to follow the country’s laws, no matter what Twitter’s own rules and guidelines were.
In May, Twitter said it was worried about freedom of speech in India, just days after police went to its offices in Delhi, the capital.
After the site called a tweet from the BJP “manipulated media,” the police gave the site a warning.