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Elon Musk-run X, formerly Twitter, to challenge Karnataka HC judgment on content-blocking orders: Report

X is also contesting the court’s decision to uphold the blocking of 29 accounts

A month after the Karnataka High Court dismissed Twitter’s petition against the Indian government’s content-blocking orders under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, the Elon Musk-owned platform, now known as X, has appealed the Karnataka HC against the ruling, according to a report by Moneycontrol. The Karnataka HC had also imposed a penalty of Rs. 50 lakh on X, formerly Twitter, payable to the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority within 45 days. Read about the verdict here.

Why it matters: X’s petition at the Karnataka HC was the first major instance of a significant social media platform challenging the Indian government’s arbitrary censorship of online content and accounts. The HC’s dismissal of the challenge was seen as concerning to many, as X’s arguments dealt with critical points about the procedural rules for blocking online content, the scope of the government’s powers to block content under Section 69A, the impact on safe harbour protections enjoyed by platforms, and the larger implications of content-blocking measures on people’s free speech rights.

X’s appeal against Karnataka HC’s verdict is interesting, given that there have been concerns of greater compliance to Indian government’s orders censoring content on the platform after Musk took over in October 2022. Regarding such orders, Musk had reportedly said, “No, look, if we have a choice of either our people go to prison, or we comply with the laws, we’ll comply with the laws.” The developments in the case would determine the extent to which a foreign platform can restrict the government’s infringement upon fundamental rights and the impact it could have on the operations of the platform in India.


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Why is X appealing?

According to the Moneycontrol report, X has appealed against the Court’s assessment that the platform is not entitled to rights under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees the protection of life and liberty to every individual, Indians and foreigners alike. The platform has maintained that the court has incorrectly interpreted Section 69A of the IT Act and that the HC’s order goes against the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Shreya Singhal v Union of India case. It has also pointed out that the court has not addressed MeitY’s (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) failure to comply with Rule 14 of the Blocking Rules (Information Technology Rules, 2009). These arguments align with X’s [Twitter] July 2022 petition. Check a detailed summary of the challenge here.

According to sources that spoke to Moneycontrol, X is also contesting the court’s decision to uphold the blocking of 29 accounts and adjudging that 33 URLs fell within the ambit of Section 69A(1) and is also expected to ask the court to set aside the Rs 50 lakh penalty, which the platform believes is “unjustifiably imposed”.

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Written By

Curious about the intersection of technology with education, caste and welfare rights. For story tips, please feel free to reach out at sarasvati@medianama.com

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