Bringing you quick updates on the tech space, policy making and digital rights from India and across the globe. Government censorship of COVID-19 social media posts Last week, we reported that the Indian government requested Twitter to block 52 tweets that mostly criticised the government's handling of the second surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. The tweets belonged to Revanth Reddy, a sitting Member of Parliament; Moloy Ghatak, a West Bengal state minister; actor Vineet Kumar Singh; and two filmmakers, Vinod Kapri and Avinash Das. Now, according to other news reports, the government has asked Twitter to block around 100 tweets. This was done to "prevent obstructions" to the fight against the pandemic and to avoud crimes against public order. The IT Ministry had issued these blocking orders on reccomendation from the Home Ministry. The government seems to be justifying the blocking orders by saying the tweets were spreading "fake news", and they were necessary for maintaining public order. But most of the 52 tweets were only criticism of the institutional failure to prevent a second wave of the virus, let alone putting in place systems to assist patients and their families. Very few had any misinformation. However, unfortunately, the government's blocking powers over internet intermediaries and social media companies cannot be challenged in courts. Companies have to first comply with the government's order and only then can they approach the courts. Similarly, users whose tweets are blocked can only challenge the governments' decision to block their social media post under…
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