Twitter has reached out to the Centre seeking a “formal dialogue” with the Union minister of electronics and information technology, Buzzfeed reported on Monday, citing an official statement from a spokesperson of the microblogging site. This came after the government reportedly asked Twitter to block 1,178 accounts for allegedly spreading misinformation.
“Safety of our employees is a top priority for us at Twitter,” the statement read, after the government reportedly threatened the people working at Twitter India with legal consequences, which can include a fine or imprisonment up to seven years, if they failed to comply with the orders to block the accounts.
Twitter is yet to act on the list of these accounts shared by the government on February 4, an official of the platform had said earlier. Meanwhile, in Monday’s release, the company said: “We strongly believe that the open and free exchange of information has a positive global impact, and that the Tweets must continue to flow”, according to Buzzfeed.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had last week sent a notice to Twitter for restoring about 250 accounts and tweets, shortly after withholding them on the government’s request. The government had warned Twitter that it could face action for unilaterally unblocking the accounts and for not following its directives to withhold them. It warned Twitter that there will be consequences of not complying with “directions issued under section 69A of Information Technology Act”.
On February 4, the government sent another list of 1,178 accounts, asking Twitter to block them due to their suspected links to Khalistan sympathisers or Pakistan. The government said these accounts were causing a threat to public order amid the farmers’ protest against agricultural laws. Twitter, however, has not blocked the accounts yet.
“If the content violates Twitter’s rules, the content will be removed from the service,” a Twitter spokesperson, told The Hindu, on Monday. “If it is determined to be illegal in a particular jurisdiction but not in violation of the Twitter rules, we may withhold access to the content in the location only.”
The spokesperson added that in such cases, they notify the account holder directly. “Our goal is to respect local law while protecting our foundational principles of free expression,” the spokesperson said.