Twitter has temporarily blocked critical accounts of the Indian government

On Monday, Twitter temporarily blocked people in India from viewing accounts belonging to activists, political commentators, the famous movie star, a leading investigative journalism magazine Caravan, commissioned by the Government of the country. All the accounts had one thing in common. They were critical of India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi. More than six hours later, Twitter resumed accounts, telling government officials that tweets and accounts were free speech and demanded news.

The move comes amid growing pressure on dissent in India, raising questions about the role of US tech companies there. In the last few weeks, the Indian authorities have had has been presented Rebellions against prominent journalists for reporting on protests by farmers challenging the Modi government. Police in the Indian capital New Delhi over the weekend has been arrested two journalists, one of whom is still in custody.

Calls to “shoot” protesting farmers last week has a tendency for hours On Twitter, thousands of tweets encouraging police brutality flooded the platform.

Some of the most popular accounts that Twitter has temporarily blocked in the country include those that provide updates on Twitter due to farmers’ complaints other than the Caravan.

“The caravan staff thinks that the decision to keep our official Twitter account is on the latest list of targeted attacks that have been posted on the publication without pursuing any possible stories,” said Vinod K. Jose, the magazine’s executive editor, told BuzzFeed News, one of the journalists accused of the uprising against him last week:

After the caravan returned to Twitter, it tweets“Our account has been restored. Today, more than ever, it is clear that the real media needs real allies. We thank our readers, subscribers and investors for their unwavering support. ”

In the announcement, Twitter says: “Many countries have laws that can be applied to Twitter և / or Twitter content. In an effort to continue our services, to make our services available to people everywhere if we get it a duly duly requested request to the competent authority, it may be necessary to restrict access to certain content from time to time in a particular country. Transparency is important to protect freedom of speech, so we have a policy of notifying stored content. We will promptly notify the affected account holders (if we are not prohibited from doing so, for example, if we sign a court order) of our request for retention of the Content. ”

Twitter backs up tweets and accounts, including in the US, if it “receives an inquiry from an authorized person,” according to the company. website, These tweets or accounts are usually visible to the rest of the world. The company says it “immediately notifies affected users if we are not prohibited from doing so.” Lumen, Harvard University Project.

But people whose accounts were temporarily blocked in India said Twitter did not notify them before taking action.

“They did not contact me before taking action against my account,” Sanjukta Basu, a political commentator who did not leave Twitter, told BuzzFeed News.

Jose Ozen said that Twitter did not inform the magazine before the account was blocked, and the company was informed only an hour after the blocking. “Twitter did not disclose where the removal of the legal claim came from,” he said.

BuzzFeed News has learned that the legal order has come to the Ministry of IT of India: a Section: a law that allows the government to remove content that poses a threat to national security, that prevents companies like Twitter from posting information about account or tweet blocking. The Ministry of IT refused to issue an official statement.

Twitter confirmed that the orders were received from the Indian Ministry of IT, but said it would not upload them to the Lumen database as the accounts were unblocked.

The company appears to be in line with local law “global human rights standards”.

“Internet platforms must ensure that any action they take in response to government orders to remove content complies with international human rights law,” said Raman Jit Singh Chima, Senior International Advisor, Director for Asia-Pacific Policy Access Now, a non-profit organization told BuzzFeed News. “They have to challenge orders that are too many, or that openly seek to pressure media outlets from reporting.”

It may mean, even temporarily, actions that seem unimaginable in other countries, actions that have led to sharp criticism.

“Can you imagine @twitter summarizing the New Yorker or Atlantic account after a legal letter?” made a note in the tweets Nicholas Dawes, CEO of City նախկին Former Director of Human Rights Watch. “Applying human rights-based standards for content moderation on a global scale may be difficult, but it is the job for which they are registered.”

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