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Brief: MEITY says Twitter is bound by Indian law, refutes free speech argument over blocked tweets

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The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) has come down hard on Twitter Inc.s' decision to challenge an order, which sought to block over 250 Twitter accounts related to the ongoing farmers' protest in the National Capital Region. The ministry, in a notice to Twitter, said that there will be consequences for the global micro-blogging platform if it is chooses to not comply with its order. On Monday, Twitter India blocked specific accounts and tweets belonging to the Caravan Magazine, Kisan Ekta Morcha, Tractor2twitr, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan), actor Sushant Singh, political commentator and author Sanjukta Basu and activist Hansraj Meena among several others. The ministry had issued the order on January 31 under Section 69A  of the Information Technology Act, 2000. Twitter restored the accounts in a few hours, arguing that the tweets constituted “free speech”. But the government did not budge from its position, since the tweets ‘insulted’ the prime minister and accused him of carrying out a genocide on farmers. It sent a notice to Twitter on February 2, 2021, enforcing its original order directing Twitter to block specific accounts and hashtag with immediate effect. MediaNama has seen a copy of the notice. MediaNama had sent queries to MEITY on Wednesday, and did not receive response. MEITY officials declined to comment. Timeline of events The IT ministry passes an interim order on the afternoon of January 31, 2021 to block 257 URLs and one hashtag for allegedly spreading misinformation about the ongoing farmer protests, supposedly with…

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