Twitter is suing India's government over orders to remove tweets from the platform under legislation passed in the nation last year. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
July 5 (UPI) -- Twitter sued India's government on Tuesday over orders to remove tweets from the platform under legislation passed last year.
The lawsuit, filed in the Karnataka High Court in Bangalore, challenges an order from the Indian government to remove content and block dozens of accounts from the social media company.
Twitter complied with the order but then sought judicial relief through the suit.
In the suit, Twitter argues that India's government abused its power under a series of laws that gave the Indian government oversight over Twitter and other social media companies, allowing authorities to demand posts or accounts critical of them be hidden from Indian users.
Twitter alleges that the government sought to arbitrarily and disproportionately remove tweets from the platform and that some of the block orders "pertain to political content that is posted by official handles of political parties."
"Blocking of such information is a violation of the freedom of speech guaranteed to citizen-users of the platform," the lawsuit states.
India's minister of electronics and information technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw, on Tuesday urged Twitter to follow the rules in a press conference.
"It is everyone's responsibility to abide by the laws passed by the country's Parliament," Vaishnaw said.
Under the laws, companies are required to employ executives based in India to ensure that the company complies with requests to remove content. These executives can be held criminally liable and face jail terms of up to seven years in prison for failing to carry out the actions.
On May 24, 2021, Dehli police visited Twitter offices in the national capital state of Dehli as well as Gurgaon to seek information about Twitter's decision to label a tweet by Indian President Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party as "manipulated media."
Twitter agreed to comply with the regulations after the Delhi High Court directed Twitter to give a statement under oath that it would follow the laws.
The company also agreed to appoint an interim chief compliance officer, name a grievance officer and set up an office in India to comply with the rules.
The Indian government has also faced a legal challenge from the Meta-owned messaging app WhatsApp, which filed a lawsuit challenging regulations that would allow authorities to make people's private messages "traceable." That case is still pending.