Saturday, May 25, 2024

Twitter suspends Indian accounts after government pressure

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Twitter temporarily blocked access to accounts in India owned by politicians and activists on Monday following pressure from Narendra Modi’s government over controversial new farm laws in the country.

The move sparked censorship accusations as New Delhi ramps up pressure against farmers protesting against reforms, which aim to relax the regulations of the country’s agricultural sector. Last week, clashes in the capital left one protester dead and hundreds of police injured.

The accounts, which had criticized the new laws, were blocked following a request from the electronics and information technology ministry, according to Twitter. The suspension was later lifted, however, after company officials met with government officials.

Among those whose accounts were affected were influential magazine The Caravan, members of the opposition Aam Aadmi party and the Indian Communist Party, as well as accounts linked to the protest movement like Kisan Ekta Morcha.

“We are stunned by the attack on our freedom of speech in our free country when we need it most,” wrote a spokesperson for the Tractor2Twitter account, created to support protesters on social media.

“This [is what] when is there [the] the entire nation is suffering the consequences of propaganda and fake news.

The move comes as social platforms have come under intense scrutiny for their handling of censorship requests by governments in the Asia-Pacific region. Facebook was criticized last year allegations that he refused to remove posts made by politicians belonging to the ruling BJP who violated its rules. Facebook denies the allegations.

A Twitter spokesperson said many countries have laws they can invoke in connection with tweets. “In our ongoing efforts to make our services accessible to people everywhere, if we receive a properly framed request from an authorized entity.” . . it may be necessary to deny access to certain content in a particular country from time to time. “

The company did not provide additional information on the nature of the Indian government’s legal request or the total number of accounts affected. However, according to local media, including Asian News International, the Indian government alleged in its complaint to Twitter that the accounts were spreading lies about the new laws.

As the protests intensified, the Indian government responded with increasingly harsh tactics. Privacy advocates have raised concerns over the use of facial recognition systems, pointing to the lack of a national law to regulate their use. The government also temporarily suspended internet services in areas bordering Delhi where the protesters had gathered.

The Department of Electronics and Information Technology did not respond to the request for comment.

Additional reporting by Hannah Murphy in San Francisco and Benjamin Parkin in Mumbai

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