Indian court dismisses Twitter’s plea, imposes fine for takedown orders
On Friday, an Indian court dismissed Twitter’s plea challenging the orders to remove critical tweets and accounts targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, and imposed a fine of $61,000 on the social media platform.
India, being the world’s largest democracy, frequently requests content removal from Twitter, and the platform often complies with these requests from Indian authorities.
This decision comes in the wake of Twitter’s former CEO, Jack Dorsey, revealing that “Indian authorities had threatened to shut down the platform in India and conduct raids on its employees’ homes if it did not comply with takedown requests.”
The Karnataka State High Court in Bengaluru, where Twitter’s Indian operations are based, rejected the case and imposed a cost of five million rupees ($61,000) after the judge determined that it lacked merit, as reported by local legal news website LiveLaw.
In response to the verdict, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Indian Deputy Minister of Information Technology, emphasized that “platforms operating in the country must adhere to Indian law.”
There has been no comment from Twitter’s India office regarding the court’s decision.
Dorsey, who co-founded Twitter but stepped down as CEO in 2021, had recently stated that the platform faced sustained pressure from Indian officials during his tenure. Chandrasekhar promptly refuted these claims, labeling them an outright lie.
Twitter disclosed last year that India ranked fourth globally in terms of government requests to remove content, trailing behind Japan, Russia, and Turkey.
In March, the platform blocked the accounts of several journalists during the search for a radical Sikh preacher in the northern state of Punjab.
During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, the Indian government instructed Twitter and Facebook to remove numerous posts criticizing its handling of the outbreak.
Rights groups assert that freedom of expression is under significant threat in India, as the country has dropped 21 spots to 161 out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index since Modi assumed office in 2014.
Indian authorities have frequently imposed complete internet shutdowns during periods of unrest, including a four-month blackout in Kashmir during a major security operation in the disputed region in 2019.
Source: Agence France-Presse