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Indian Govt Panel Approves Order To Block 306 Twitter Accounts

A review committee set up by the Indian Government has approved the decision to block 306 accounts on the micro-blogging site Twitter, reports PTI (via Times of India).

As per the report, the review committee was reviewing 310 Twitter and Facebook accounts that were blocked after the communal clashes which took place in Assam’s Kokrajhar district and found that some of these Twitter accounts had uploaded few of the morphed pictures which led to the clashes last year and it believes these Twitter accounts has the potential to inflame communal tension in the country. The review committee was comprised of the cabinet secretary Ajit Seth, telecom secretary R Chandrasekhar and the legal affairs secretary BA Agarwal.

Internet Firms Deny Data Access: The report also stated that the review committee had conducted meetings with Google, Facebook and Twitter representatives and had asked them to provide details of the accounts which had posted objectionable content, but the companies had apparently not complied with these requests.

Earlier this month, Twitter had mentioned that it had received less than 10 requests for disclosure of of user information from the Indian government during July to December 2012, but it complied to none of those requests. Last month, Google had also stated that it had received 2,431 requests for disclosure of user data from 4106 accounts from the Indian government during July to December 2012 and it had complied with as many as 66% of the requests.

Previous Developments

This decision comes after communal violence in Assam’s Kokrajhar district, which led to an exodus of a large number of people belonging to the North Eastern ethnic community from cities like Bangalore and Pune, among others.

In August 2012, the Indian government had admitted to have blocked 245 web pages with inflammatory and hateful content, following the exodus of a large number of people belonging to the North Eastern ethnic community from cities like Bangalore and Pune, among others. Interestingly, the government has also pointed towards the involvement of a neighboring country (Pakistan), in its statement. The Indian government had approached Twitter to block these Twitter accounts, however,  Twitter failed to comply with the request.

What’s interesting is, in August 2012, GoI had requested Twitter to block 28 Twitter accounts which had allegedly tweeted communally sensitive or inflammatory remarks and photos but Twitter hadn’t complied to this request citing technical difficulties.

Earlier today, we reported that Twitter had appointed Rishi Jaitly to head its Indian operations and look after Twitter India’s interactions with the Indian government. Although Jaitly’s position at Twitter India is not clear as of yet, he had previously worked at Google India as a policy analyst and was a part of Google India’s initial policy team. This appointment could probably help Twitter with increasing amount of requests that it receives from the Indian government to block/ban accounts.

Chennai City Police Arrests Two Over Harassment On Twitter
Analyzing The Latest List Of Blocked Sites (Communalism & Rioting Edition) Part II
Analysis Of Webpages Blocked By Indian Govt Till August 21st 2012: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

Web Censorship Update: State Specific Internet Blocks; Legal Notices On Inflammatory Content
#IndiaBlocks – A Round-Up Of News On The Internet Blocks
Updated: Indian Government Blocks Parody Accounts Of Prime Minister’s Office On Twitter
On Twitter’s Decision To Censor Content According To Local Laws

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