On Wednesday, Twitter stated in its transparency report that 94% of the total legal demands for content removal from 1 July to 31 December 2020 came from the countries Japan, India, South Korea, Russia and Turkey.
India ranked second in terms of having the highest number of submitted orders — just one spot behind Russia.
The Southeast Asian nation also racked up the most information requests from that time period, with its government contributing to 25% of the global volume and 15% of the global accounts specified in such queries.
Information requests urge Twitter to provide specific account data on governments, authorities and other third parties across the world in fulfilment of legal inquiry.
Twitter’s legal woes in India
After failing to comply with India’s latest information technology (IT) regulations, Twitter lost its right to be given liability protection against users’ content and will now be held accountable for users’ posts on the platform, as noted in a court decision.
Specifically, the micro-blogging platform was not able to hire a Chief Compliance Officer, a Resident Grievance Officer and a contact person who will deal with state-originated requests at all times. IT rules enforced in May 2021 compel dominant social media companies to appoint such personnel.
Aside from that, the statement clarified that social media sites must remove content that violates the Republic’s laws concerning defamation, morality, security and sovereignty within 36 hours.
This deals a heavy blow to tech giants as it means that executives can be slapped with criminal charges over users’ content that the Indian administration deems as questionable.
While social networking platforms are usually not held responsible for users’ posts under US law, the same circumstances cannot be assumed in India.
“Some of them say we are bound by American laws. You operate in India, make good money, but you will take the position that you’ll be governed by American laws. This is plainly not acceptable,” said then-IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in the India Global Forum on 30 June 2021.
In the press conference, Prasad maintained that India’s recent rollout of social media regulations is not an effort to silence government critics.
This is not the first time Twitter had a brush with authorities in India. On 24 May 2021, police forces raided the empty Twitter India offices in Delhi and Gurgaon after the platform labelled ruling party members’ tweets as “manipulated media” for their sharing unconfirmed claims on Congress’ intentions to undermine the Central Government.
In detail, Bharatiya Janata Party National Spokesperson Sambit Patra implied said that the opposition created the Twitter “toolkit” function that labels misleading tweets and wielded it to ruin Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reputation.
Three days before the raid, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology delivered a message to Twitter criticizing its usage of the “Manipulated Media” tag on Indian politicians’ tweets, as Asian News International (ANI) reported. ANI added that the ministry will investigate the platform’s actions.
Twitter established policies on indicating and flagging misleading posts in February 2020, clarifying that posts with videos or images that have been intentionally altered or doctored in order to promote dubious information will be tagged as “manipulated media”. So will false data that has been passed off as true.
Content will be deleted from the site if it has the potential to cause harm.
Written by Sophia Lopez