New Delhi, June 25, 2021: The Indian IT Minister accused Twitter of temporarily blocking his account because he criticized the American company in the deadlock over the new social media rules.
Ravi Shankar Prasad (Ravi Shankar Prasad) stated that he “seriously violated” Indian regulations and he was told without warning that his account was locked for violating US copyright laws.
The account remained out of action for almost an hour, he said.
“It is apparent that my statements calling out the high handedness and arbitrary actions of Twitter, particularly sharing the clips of my interviews to TV channels and its powerful impact, have clearly ruffled its feathers,” Prasad tweeted after his account was restored.
“Twitter’s actions indicate that they are not the harbinger of free speech that they claim to be but are only interested in running their own agenda, with the threat that if you do not tow the line they draw, they will arbitrarily remove you from their platform,” he added.
Twitter was unable to comment immediately.
The American company has been at a deadlock for several months with the new regulations of a social media company operating in India in New Delhi.
The regulation requires companies to delete and identify the “first sponsor” of posts deemed to undermine India’s sovereignty, national security, or public order.
Social media companies and privacy activists worry that the ambiguity of the rules means they may be forced to identify the authors of posts critical of the government.
Prasad said on Friday that Twitter did not abide by the new rules because “it cannot arbitrarily deny access to personal accounts that do not meet its agenda.”
Twitter insisted last week that it is making every effort to comply with these guidelines.
WhatsApp is challenging the rules in court, fearing that it will have to break its system of encryption that prevents anyone other than the sender and receiver from reading messages.
Last week, Twitter’s top executive in India was summoned by police after a video of a Muslim man being assaulted went viral on the platform. Police accused Twitter of stoking sectarian tensions.
In May police visited Twitter’s offices to serve a notice to the US company over its failure to remove a “manipulated media” label that it had placed on a tweet by the ruling party’s spokesman.
Twitter responded by accusing the authorities of “intimidation tactics”.
The government says it recognises and respects the right to privacy and that the new rules are only to prevent “abuse and misuse of social media”.