As per a TOI report, the government has warned that twitter executives could face upto seven-year imprisonment along with financial penalties if they fail to remove contents and accounts that are “objectionable and inflammatory content”. As per the report, sources told TOI that failure to remove such content and inordinate delays in complying with the government’s request are seen as a violation of the IT laws and as such executives will face action according to the law. The report also quoted a government official as saying, “We seek compliance, and they have also started agreeing in certain cases. However, in many cases they do remain unresponsive.”
The report of this warning to twitter executives comes after the social networking platform faced heat from a parliamentary committee over allegations of biases in blocking accounts in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections. According to the report, senior government officials speaking on the condition of anonymity told that Twitter has been “warned and asked to comply with the provisions under the Indian IT Act. Otherwise, it will face action under Section 69A of the IT Act. A notice has been sent in this regard.” Section 69A of the IT Act empowers the government to seek blocking of content or accounts containing information that is seen as detrimental to the sovereignty and integrity of the country, or has the potential to create public disorder. As per the Act, an intermediary who fails to comply with the direction “shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine.”
Last month, Twitter India had been summoned by a Parliamentary committee to submit its view on the subject of “safeguarding citizens’ rights on social/online news media platform”. The summons has been sent by the Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology, headed by BJP leader Anurag Thakur. Twitter India had been summoned after a volunteer group had written to the Parliamentary committee accusing the Twitter India of being biased against right-wing Twitter accounts. Members of the Youth for Social Media Democracy had protested outside the office of the social media giant and alleged that it had acquired an “anti-right-wing attitude” and had been blocking their accounts. This was not for the first time that allegations of the Twitter being biased against right-wing accounts were made. Earlier, several popular right-wing Twitter users had voiced their concerns of falling popularity and sudden unprecedented dip in the number of their followers in the past.