Twitter has told the Indian government that it will not restrict the accounts belonging to journalists, activists and politicians in India despite receiving an order from the country’s federal government. However, this prevents an unspecified number of accounts that do not fall into these categories from being able to be viewed internally in India.
In one blog post Released on Tuesday, the company said that while it was withholding some accounts that the Indian government wanted to block, it was not blocking others as it would violate free speech.
“Because we do not believe that the actions we have been asked to take are in accordance with Indian law and in accordance with our principles of defending protected speech and freedom of expression, we have taken no action on accounts which consist of new media entities, journalists, activists and politicians, ”the Twitter blog said. “To do so, we believe, would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law.”
Twitter’s post comes amid a fight with the Indian government, a major market for the company, to restrict accounts on the platform. Earlier this month, the company limit people in India view more than 250 accounts in the country after receiving an emergency legal order from the Indian Ministry of IT. Among the blocked accounts were Caravan, an investigative news magazine, criticism of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and accounts tweeting in support of a months-long farmers’ protest rocking the country.
But Twitter reestablished the accounts six hours later, arguing with the Indian government that the accounts constituted free speech and deserved to be noted. In response, the government threat Twitter officials face a fine and up to seven years in prison for violating his order.
The confrontation with the Indian government has put Twitter in a difficult place. Blocking the accounts would mean allowing a crackdown on dissent, free speech and journalism by India’s increasingly authoritarian government. But to challenge the government is to risk legal consequences.
in the blog post Posted on Tuesday, Twitter said it had taken additional measures such as banning hashtags containing harmful content from the platform, which the government feared would cause real-world violence amid the protest, and the permanent suspension of more than 500 accounts for violating Twitter rules.
“We will continue to defend the right to free speech on behalf of the people we serve and actively explore options under Indian law – both for Twitter and for the accounts that have been affected,” Publish added. “We remain committed to protecting the health of the conversation taking place on Twitter and believe that Tweets should flow.”