Twitter to WhatsApp: When social media companies took on the Indian government

Take Twitter Legal action against the Indian government He allegedly ordered the social media platform to remove certain tweets. However, this is not the first time that the social media company has sued the Indian government. In 2021, WhatsApp also filed a lawsuit in the Delhi High Court, challenging the Information Technology (IT) rules of 2021. Meta-owned WhatsApp challenged the traceability provision as “unconstitutional”. We take a look at why the two companies are suing the Indian government.

Twitter row

In February 2021, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology sent a New list of nearly 1,200 Twitter accountsDemanding that it either suspend or ban it in India. These accounts, “have been flagged by the security services as accounts of sympathizers with Khalistan or supported by Pakistan.”

The removal was requested under Section 69(a) of the Information Technology Act 2000. The law allows the Center to order social media brokers to block any content “in the interest of India’s sovereignty and integrity, India’s defense, state security or friendly relations with foreign countries, public order or To prevent incitement to commit any recognizable offense related to the above.

According to Twitter’s latest transparency report, India ranked 4th (from January to June 2022) in the number of legal content removal requests. The report states that Twitter received 43,387 worldwide legal requests to remove content identifying 196,878 accounts, of which India accounts for 11 percent of the global legal demands.

The latest controversy comes after MeitY wrote to remove some Twitter accounts, asking them to comply with its orders by July 4 or lose safe harbor protection under the broker’s rules. Section 79 of the Information Technology Act 2000 gives social media platforms immunity from liability for third-party content on their platform provided the intermediary exercises “due diligence” and follows certain “guidelines.”

However, Twitter has moved the Karnataka High Court against the content blocking orders issued by the ministry. The microblogging platform claimed that many of these ban orders are both procedurally and substantively flawed under Section 69(a) of the Act, such as Reported by the Indian Express.

WhatsApp class

After implementing information technology (IT) rules for social media brokers in 2021, WhatsApp was quick to file a lawsuit against the Indian government, claiming that the new regulations could allow authorities to track people’s private conversations. The IT rules include a traceability clause that requires social media platforms to locate a “first originator of information” if requested by the authorities. WhatsApp filed the case last May 25 in the Delhi High Court, with an exception on the ‘tracing’ side of the guidelines.

as such Reported by indianexpress.comWhatsApp has invoked the 2017 Justice KS Puttaswamy vs Union Of India case to argue that the tracking requirement is unconstitutional and conflicts with individuals’ fundamental right to privacy.

The petition stated that the court should declare the traceability requirement “unconstitutional” and not allow it to come into force. I learned that she is also defying the clause placing “criminal liability” on her employees for non-compliance.

Meanwhile, in a June 2021 blog post, WhatsApp said, “We are committed to doing everything we can to protect the privacy of people’s personal messages, which is why we join others in denying traceability.” The case is still ongoing. In October, it was reported that the government said WhatsApp had no “fundamental rights” and could not challenge an “Indian law”.

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