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“Block Accounts Or Face Penal Action”: Govt Warns Twitter After It Restores ‘Withheld’ Accounts

The source also stated that Twitter unilaterally unblocked accounts/tweets despite the government order for blocking.

According to various reports through sources, the Union government has issued a notice to Twitter to comply with its order related to the removal of contents as well as accounts related to ‘farmer genocide’, while warning that refusal to do so may invite penal action.

A source in MeitY said: “The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology [MeitY] had passed an interim order dated 31.01.2021 as a matter of emergency blocking 257 URLs and 1 Hashtag under section 69 A of the Information Technology Act, 2000… on the ground that the said URLs and hashtag are spreading misinformation about protests and has the potential to lead to imminent violence affecting public order situation in the country.”

The source also stated that Twitter unilaterally unblocked accounts/tweets despite the government order for blocking. It was an intermediary and was obliged to obey the government direction.

“Refusal to do so may invite penal action. The government notice quotes more than half a dozen Supreme Court judgments, including of constitutional benches, as to what is public order and what are the rights of authorities. Twitter being an intermediary is obliged to obey the directions as per the satisfaction of the authorities as to which inflammatory content will arouse passion and impact public order,” the source added.

Hours after blocking them citing “legal demand”, Twitter had restored all accounts on Tuesday evening.

The MeitY, in its notice, had referred to the “prevailing situation”, which resulted in a major public order issue on January 26, 2020. “The statutory authorities are doing everything possible to ensure that no adverse public order situation takes place and no cognizable offences are committed. In light of these developments and as a part of due process, and as per the settled practice, an order was passed…” the source said.

 

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