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No Freedom of Expression? Tussle between Twitter & Indian Govt worsens

Twitter has refused an order from the Indian government to block certain Twitter accounts, including ones from politicians, activists, and journalists that were critical of the government’s response to a protest carried out in the country’s capital in January.
 
In a blog post, Twitter explained that, while it has started blocking some accounts, it has “not taken any action on accounts that consist of news media entities, journalists, activists, and politicians” because it believes doing so would “violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law.”
 
Starting at the beginning of February, the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has sent orders to Twitter to block a number of accounts and hashtags connected to mass protests that have gripped the country. 
 
Many of the accounts were critical of the Indian government and its response to the protests, including the official Twitter account of a prominent magazine The Caravan. According to media reports, the government ordered the accounts suspended because they were “spreading misinformation about protests.”
 
Twitter initially complied with the orders, a decision that drew significant criticism from civil rights groups. Some activists called the action censorship, while others accused Twitter of bowing to government overreach.
 
The protests have been building since November, and have resulted in violence, deaths, and internet blackouts in parts of the country’s capital region of Delhi. Tens of thousands of farmers have gone on strike over the course of the protests.
 
The farmers are concerned about changes to agricultural laws in India that they fear could cut their income. Farming policy is a hugely important issue in India. With nearly 60% of the country still primarily relying on farming, the protests have grabbed headlines around the world.
 
Twitter’s justification for unblocking the accounts, in opposition to government orders, is it believes keeping them inaccessible “would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law.” Twitter says it “do[es] not believe that the actions [it has] directed to take are consistent with Indian law,” and that unblocking the accounts is consistent “with [its] principles of defending protected speech and freedom of expression.”
 
Meanwhile, India's information technology minister Ravi Shankar on Thursday warned in the Parliament that “action would be taken against social media platforms if they were misused to spread fake news and violence.” However, netizens are trolling the BJP government following such statements as the saffron party has indulged heavily in propaganda and fake news before any and every election. 
 
Going by the current controversy, it remains to be seen whether the government will win this war and compel Twitter to give in or will bow to India losing business from a social media giant like Twitter to local companies and replicas of the platform. 

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