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Free Software Movement of India’s Twitter account locked over picture of CERT-in complaint


The Free Software Movement of India’s Twitter page has been locked, Y Kiran Chandra, FSMI’s Secretary General, said on Tuesday. This means the account can’t post any tweets. The reason: FSMI uploaded a copy of a complaint letter about an alleged data breach at the grocery delivery company BigBasket, and Twitter locked the handle — for ‘posting private information’ — until the tweet is removed. The handle is still visible, minus that tweet. The letter was dated November 11, 2020.

“It has been over a month & we have not received any acknowledgement from @IndianCERT on our complaint to investigate Big Basket data breach. CERT-In is required to acknowledge citizen complaints in 2 days and resolve it in under 30 days according to its citizen charter,” FSMI said in the now-deleted tweet. We have reached out to Twitter for comment.

FSMI, founded in 2010, describes itself as a “national coalition of various regional and sectoral free software movements operating in different parts of India.” FSMI Secretary General Chandra told MediaNama, “We have decided not to delete the tweet as there is nothing private in it. We have gone for an appeal.” He added, “This action of twitter is of serious concern, where it did not bother to take our view or disclose on what private information exists in our tweet.” MediaNama reviewed the letter, which only contains one piece of something that could be construed as personal information: a public-facing email ID of the Public Grievance Officer of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in).

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This is not the first time Twitter has reacted questionably in response to a breach. Last year, Twitter was aggressively removing tweets that even relied on data from BlueLeaks, a leaked 270GB dataset from multiple police departments in the United States. The company, in that instance, cited its policies against sharing hacked materials. In FSMI’s case, Twitter cited (in an automated message to Chandra) their policies against private information. Chandra claims that there was no private information in the tweet that was deleted. We will update this piece if we hear back from either Chandra or Twitter.

Correction (2:20pm): This article and its headline previously stated that the FSMI’s Twitter handle was “suspended” briefly. The account was never suspended, and is in fact locked until FSMI removes the tweet flagged by Twitter. We regret the error.

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