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Twitter Challenges Union’s Blocking Orders Under Section 69A, Seeks Judicial Review

The microblogging platform has approached the court against content blocking orders received under Section 69A of the IT Act, citing free speech

Twitter has commenced legal action against ‘overbroad and arbitrary’ content blocking orders from the Union, reported Reuters on Tuesday. The petition moved in the Karnataka High Court seeks judicial review of some blocking orders issued by the government under Section 69A of the Information and Technology Act, 2000.  Twitter alleges that some blocking requests under the provision are procedurally 'deficient'—in that users, for example, are not notified prior to their accounts being taken down. Unnamed sources add that some requests lack substance, that is, it is not specified as to how the flagged content falls under the provisions of Section 69A. The Union has argued in the past that the contents of blocking orders are confidential and not open to the public. Such requests amount to the ‘disproportionate’ abuse of power by government officials alleges Twitter—which may critically violate freedom of speech. For example, sources add that the petition refers to content takedown requests from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) relating to content posted by the official accounts of political parties. Why it matters: The broad provisions of Section 69A have been critiqued for potentially facilitating censorship online. Twitter has indeed complied with such orders in the past, partly participating in this exercise. However, its challenge, in this case, may mark a significant attempt by a private entity to not only protect free speech in India, but challenge government laws frequently perceived as lacking transparency. What this means for the future of Twitter's operations in India is unclear,…

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