Indian court dismisses Twitter plea on takedown orders
An Indian court on Friday fined Twitter $61,000 after dismissing its plea challenging orders to remove tweets and accounts critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government.
The world's biggest democracy petitions Twitter for content removals more than almost any other country, and the platform regularly takes down or blocks content at the request of Indian authorities.
Friday's decision comes weeks after the company's former chief executive Jack Dorsey said authorities had threatened to "shut down Twitter in India" and raid the homes of its employees if it refused to agree to takedown requests.
The Karnataka state high court in Bengaluru, home to Twitter's Indian operations, dismissed the case and imposed costs of five million rupees ($61,000) after a judge deemed it "devoid of merits", local legal news website LiveLaw reported.
Responding to the verdict, Indian deputy information technology minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar tweeted that platforms operating in the country must "be in compliance with Indian law".
Twitter's India office was contacted for comment.
Dorsey, who co-founded Twitter and stepped down as chief executive in 2021, said this month that Twitter had come under sustained pressure from Indian officials during his tenure.
Chandrasekhar responded at the time by calling Dorsey's accusations an "outright lie."
Twitter said last year that India ranked fourth globally in the number of requests made by a government to remove content—behind Japan, Russia and Turkey.
In March, the platform blocked the accounts of several journalists during the manhunt for a radical Sikh preacher in the northern state of Punjab.
At the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2021, the government ordered Twitter and Facebook to remove dozens of posts critical of the government's handling of the outbreak.
Rights groups say freedom of expression is under broad threat in India, which has fallen 21 spots to 161 out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index since Modi took office in 2014.
Indian authorities have regularly imposed blanket internet shutdowns during periods of unrest, including a four-month outage in Kashmir during a major security operation in the disputed territory in 2019.
© 2023 AFP