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ECI asks social media firms about sharing their information in RTI replies: Report

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has asked social media firms whether it can disclose its correspondence with them (such as takedown requests) to Right to Information applicants, reports the Economic Times. The ECI wrote this in a letter on May 1st to the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the industry body acting as the middleman between ECI and the companies. Citing Section 11 of the RTI Act, which deals with disclosing third-party information, it gave the platforms - Facebook, Google, Twitter, ShareChat and Bytedance - 10 days to reply. In mid-April Twitter took down two communal tweets by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath on the Election Commission’s orders. Posted on April 5, the tweets equated the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) with the ‘green virus’. During the elections, Facebook removed 574 posts, Twitter disabled or deleted 49 accounts or tweets at the orders of the ECI. YouTube removed two videos and WhatsApp disabled three users after the EC flagged them. How the RTI Act deals with third-party information Section 11 of the RTI Act says that public information officers should ask the third party whether the information should be disclosed. It says that the final decision rests with the officers but allows the third party to appeal. Here is a summary: When a public information officer intends to disclose any confidential information that relates to a third party, the officer must, within five days of receiving the request, notify the third party and invite it to…

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