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Karnataka High Court gives X Corp one last chance to comply with blocking orders

In June this year, the Karnataka High Court dismissed X Corp’s challenge against 39 content-blocking orders issued by the Indian Government.

On August 24, the Karnataka High Court gave X Corp (previously Twitter) “one more and last opportunity” to show compliance with the blocking orders issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY), according to a report by the Telegraph. X Corp’s counsel has informed Justice MGS Kamal and Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale that he is awaiting instructions from the client and requires some more time for the same. The case has been adjourned till September 15. 

Some context please:

This case is a follow-up on X Corp’s attempt to challenge 39 content-blocking orders issued by the Indian Government under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000. In June this year, after months of hearings, the Karnataka High Court dismissed X Corp’s challenge. Further, it had imposed exemplary costs (costs imposed by a court on a party for abuse of the court’s process) of Rs. 50 lakh on X Corp, payable to the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority. 

Then, in August, X Corp appealed to the Karnataka High Court against the ruling. Based on the Telegraph report, it seems that the case may not end up in X Corp’s favour. 

Why is this case so important? 

This is the first time a significant social media platform has challenged the Indian government’s censorship of content online. During the original hearing of the case, X Corp had argued that the blocking orders were ‘substantively and procedurally’ non-compliant with the government’s procedures to block content online, harming the free speech rights of its user-citizens. It also mentioned that the reasons for blocking should be communicated to the public so that they can challenge the action in court. In doing so, it highlighted the implications of content-blocking measures on people’s free speech rights.

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