June 25, 2021
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s technology minister slammed Twitter on Friday for denying access to his account for almost an hour amid growing tensions between the U.S. company and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration over compliance with new IT rules.
Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a thread on Koo, a home-grown rival to Twitter, that the company had denied access on the grounds he had violated the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), subsequently restoring access.
Prasad said Twitter had violated India’s new IT rules, which became effective in May and mandate that an intermediary or a host of user content must inform a user of the grounds for its action.
The rules also say that a user must be “provided with an adequate and reasonable opportunity to dispute the action” taken by an intermediary.
It was not immediately clear which of Prasad’s posts violated the DMCA.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The dispute over the minister’s account comes as India’s federal government and Twitter are wrangling over non-compliance with the new IT rules.
In a separate case, police summoned Twitter’s India head Manish Maheshwari earlier this month for failing to stop the spread of a video that allegedly incited religious discord. On Thursday, a court gave Maheshwari relief in that case.
Prasad has previously criticised Twitter over the viral video, saying its failure to act was “perplexing”.
On Friday, Prasad reiterated that all social media firms must abide by the new IT rules, which also mandate the appointment of new compliance executives.
“Twitter’s actions indicate that they are not the harbinger of free speech that they claim to be but are only interested in running their own agenda,” Prasad said, adding that users faced the threat of being “arbitrarily” removed if they did not follow the company’s line.
(Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Frances Kerry)