Twitter told the Indian government that it does not restrict accounts belonging to Indian journalists, activists, and politicians, even after receiving an order from the country’s federal government. However, it blocks an unspecified number of accounts that do not fall into these categories from being seen within the country.
In a blog post published on Tuesday, the company said that even if it blocked some accounts that the Indian government wanted it to block, it would not block others because doing so would violate free speech.
“Because we do not believe that the actions we have been ordered to take are in accordance with Indian law, and, in accordance with our principles of defending protected speech and freedom of expression, we have not taken action on accounts with new- media entities, journalists, activists, and politicians, “according to the Twitter blog post.” In doing so, we believe, violates their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law. “
The Twitter post comes in the midst of a struggle by the Indian government, a key market for the company, over the control of accounts on the platform. Earlier this month, the company withheld people in India from looking at more than 250 accounts in the country after receiving an emergency legal order from the IT ministry of India. Among the blocked accounts were Caravan, an investigative news magazine; critics of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi; and accounts tweeting in support of a month-long protest by farmers around the country.
But Twitter restored the accounts six hours later, arguing with the Indian government that the accounts consist of free speech and are popular. In response, the government threatened Twitter officials face fines and up to seven years in prison for violating its order.
The Indian government’s standoff puts Twitter on hard place. Blocking accounts means being able to be a deterrent against misunderstanding, free speech, and disclosure by India’s more governing government. But government opposition implies dangerous legal consequences.
on blog post published on Tuesday, Twitter said it was taking additional steps such as banning hashtags containing harmful content from the platform, something the government fears could provoke real global violence amid protests, and permanently suspended more than 500 accounts for violating Twitter laws.
But the post also indicated that Twitter is seeking legal redress to reinstate some of the accounts it banned in the country.
“We will continue to advocate for the right to free expression for the people we serve and are actively exploring options under Indian law – both for Twitter and for the accounts affected,” Twitter wrote. “We remain committed to keeping track of the health of the conversation that happens on Twitter, and strongly believe that Tweets should flow.”