The Government of India has asked Twitter to provide telephone numbers and other identifiable data to “help track suspicious accounts” to law enforcement agencies. The information about this request was revealed by a senior official at the Home Ministry of India. According to a recent report, the government has increased its interactions with social media giants to counter individuals responsible for communal violence and other threats to national security. This comes right after Home Ministry issued a warning to Twitter for its slow response in taking down content and accounts that were responsible for inciting communal violence.
According to a report by The Hindu, in response to the request, Twitter pointed out that sharing identifiable data about anonymous accounts that are criticizing government policies will be against the freedom of expression. Officials countered the response by giving an example of criminal law against people who abuse others in the real world asking “why should it be different in the virtual world”. Talking about the earlier warning, the report also noted that Home Ministry presented Twitter with past instances where the company was slow to act.
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One of the instances presented involved Delhi Police where the law enforcement “asked Twitter to take action against an account” that posted “objectionable content against a particular community”. The account also called for “extermination” of the said community.
The report also revealed that Twitter only complied with the request to take “down objectionable or hateful content only in 60 percent cases”. According to the warning, the home ministry would call for “strict legal provisions” against the platform if they did not comply with the takedown requests. While talking to The Hindu, Twitter issued a response adding, “As a global company, Twitter exercises due diligence to respect with local laws in jurisdictions around the world, and duly reviews all legal process.”