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Twitter is pursuing judicial review of Indian orders to remove content

Twitter revealed it has filed a lawsuit against the government of that nation

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Twitter is pursuing judicial review of Indian orders to remove content

Twitter is attempting to reverse some Indian government orders to remove content from its social media platform, according to a source familiar with the situation, in a court challenge that alleges official abuse of authority.

The next shot in a long-running battle over the Indian government’s restrictive speech rules was fired on Tuesday when Twitter revealed it has filed a lawsuit against the government of that nation.

The New York Times was the first to announce that Twitter had been forced to delete many accounts and messages for breaking Indian defamation and obscenity laws. Twitter has now deleted the messages, but it is still seeking legal protection from such court rulings.

Over the past year, Twitter has received orders from Indian authorities to take action regarding content from accounts that support an independent Sikh state, posts that are alleged to have spread false information about farmer protests, and tweets that are critical of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Twitter’s attempt to obtain a court review is part of a simmering conflict with Indian Government

Last May, India adopted new IT laws for online material, which were quickly followed by a police raid on Twitter’s India offices. The Indian authorities promised to hold Twitter accountable for any future violations committed by its users in July of that year. Twitter has now deleted the posts, but it is still seeking legal protection from such court rulings.

The social media company did not specifically state which removal orders it wanted to be reviewed, but it contends in its request for a judicial review that some of them did not meet the procedural standards of India’s IT laws.

Twitter has generally maintained that it conforms to local speech regulations; nonetheless, Indian laws regarding obscenity and seditious speech are exceptionally strict. The nation has historically employed speech restrictions to prevent public debate on internal political unrest or environmental issues.

 In a 2016 study on the subject, renowned novelist Arundhati Roy—who was charged with sedition for comments she made on the strife in Kashmir—described the system as chaotic and oppressive. Roy remarked at the time, “The most terrifying thing is that any insane coot may go and submit a complaint against you. “It’s a serious amount of harassment.”

The persistent ambiguity surrounding Elon Musk’s effort to buy Twitter and take it private complicates the legal battle. In June, Musk vowed to uphold free speech principles as Twitter’s owner, but he also committed to following local regulations and made employee reductions seem likely, making it harder to successfully defend the company’s stance in India.

Despite having committed to buying the business, Musk still expresses scepticism about whether the deal will ever go through, which casts more uncertainty over the company’s future.

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