Twitter is certainly not helping its case in its ongoing tussle with the Government of India. The Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, and Minister of Law & Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad tweeted that Twitter denied him access to his Twitter account for almost an hour. The Minister also posted screenshots along with his tweets.
Twitter denied access to my account for almost an hour on the alleged ground that there was a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of the USA and subsequently they allowed me to access the account.”
The Minister’s account was apparently locked because Twitter received a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice for content posted from his account.
Violation of Intermediary Rules
Because of non-compliance with the new intermediary rules, Twitter is already facing an FIR. But this particular instance highlights potentially another non-compliance with the rules.
As per Section 4(8) of the rules, significant social media intermediary must follow certain procedure. Whenever it removes or disables access to any information on its own accord, it must ensure that “prior to” removing or disabling access, it has provided the user who has created or uploaded or shared the information a notification explaining the action being taken and the reasons for such action. Besides, it must also provide an adequate and reasonable opportunity to the user to dispute it’s action, and request for reinstatement of access to such information.
Although the Minister has got a notice from Twitter, but we cannot confirm if he received the notice before Twitter disabled access to his account.
Compliance with Intermediary Rules
The present tussle started with Twitter flagging Sambit Patra’s tweet as ‘manipulated media’. When Congress registered a complaint with the Delhi Police, the Police went to visit Twitter India’s headquarters in Delhi, citing evasive answers by Twitter MD. Twitter then issued a statement sharing concerns regarding employee safety in India. MeitY jumped in and issued a statement and said that Twitter must comply with the laws of India.
Later, MeitY issued a ‘one last notice‘ to Twitter, highlighting glaring deficiencies in its compliance with the new intermediary rules. Twitter slowly started to fell in line, but requested some more time to comply.
Meanwhile, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has filed a complaint against Twitter with the Delhi Police. It has alleged that Twitter has deliberately given wrong information on child pornography material. The Delhi Police, investigating the toolkit case, has also alleged that Twitter MD is misleading the investigation by giving evasive answers to queries.