After the central government asked Twitter to block certain accounts and tweets related to Kashmir, the social media giant has withheld a number of handles. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had asked Twitter to block 19 accounts, via a letter dated August 24, The Indian Express reported. The report said that most of the tweets from those accounts were Kashmir related. Apart from that, the letter contained 95 more tweets from various accounts which the government wanted to be removed. Before this, another communication on August 16, had said that the centre had identified 95 more accounts and more tweets to be blocked. This list included Twitter searches and hashtags as well, the report added.
In the letter dated August 24, the ministry said that there was a request from law enforcement agencies to block 115 Twitter handles/tweets. In the letter, the government invoked Section 69A of the Information and Technology Act, 2000. The IE report said that on August 4, a committee meeting was held for recommendations regarding blocking and removal of tweets and accounts in “interest of public order as well as for preventing any cognizable offence”. The Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009, says that a committee of joint secretaries, from the ministries of IT, law and justice, home affairs, information and broadcasting and the Indian Computer Emergency Response, can take a decision on what type of content can be blocked. This committee has also asked the social media website for a compliance report.
Most of the accounts/tweets mentioned are now unavailable/suspended/deleted, IE said. The report, however, added that many of them are still available. Interestingly, Twitter has written to multiple account holders, informing them that it has got ‘official communication’ and the ‘correspondence claims that the following tweet(s) is/are in violation of Indian law’. It has asked users if they would remove the content voluntarily.