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'Gross violation': Twitter blocks, then unblocks Ravi Shankar Prasad's account

IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said it's apparent that his statements "calling out the high handedness and arbitrary actions of Twitter, particularly sharing the clips of my interviews to TV channels and its powerful impact", clearly ruffled its feathers

IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad

IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said Twitter denied access to his account for almost an hour today on the alleged ground of "violation of Digital Millennium Copyright Act of the USA", and subsequently unblocked his account.

Ravi Shankar Prasadgi@ravishankarprasad
Friends! Something highly peculiar happened today. Twitter denied access to my account for almost an hour on the alleged ground that there was a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of the USA and subsequently they allowed me to access the account.(1/7)

The minister has said Twitter's actions were in gross violation of "Rule 4 (8) of Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021," where they failed to provide him prior notice before denying access to his account.

The minister reiterated that there won't be any compromise when it comes to abiding by the new IT Rules. He said it's apparent that his statements "calling out the high handedness and arbitrary actions of Twitter, particularly sharing the clips of my interviews to TV channels and its powerful impact", clearly ruffled Twitter's feathers.

Also read: 'Law of the land supreme': Parliamentary panel grills Twitter over violation of new IT rules

In a series of remarks on Indian social media platform Koo and Twitter, the minister slammed the US-based platform. "It's apparent as to why Twitter is refusing to comply with the Intermediary Guidelines because if Twitter does comply, it would be unable to arbitrarily deny access to an individual's account which does not suit their agenda," he added.

While blocking Prasad's account, Twitter said his actions (content posted on his handle) were a violation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). "Under the DMCA, copyright owners can notify Twitter claiming that a user has infringed their copyrighted works. Upon receipt of a valid DMCA notice, Twitter will remove the identified material," the notice said.

The company said it maintains a "repeat copyright" infringer policy under which repeat infringer accounts will be suspended. The company also warned the minister that "accruing multiple DMCA strikes may lead to suspension of your account".

Defending his actions, the minister said in the past several years, no television channel or any anchor has made any complaints about copyright infringements with regard to these news clips of my interviews shared on social media.

Also Read: Twitter reveals what's holding it back from complying with new IT rules

The minister said Twitter's actions indicated that "they are not the harbinger of free speech that they claim to be but are only interested in running their own agenda, with the threat that if you do not tow the line they draw, they will arbitrarily remove you from their platform".

The central government has slammed Twitter for deliberate defiance and failure to comply with the IT rules, which has led to the US giant losing its "intermediary status" in India and becoming liable for users posting any unlawful content.

Twitter has not fully complied with the new rules, called Intermediary Guidelines, that mandate setting up a grievance redressal mechanism and appointing officers to coordinate with law enforcement.

Earlier this month, the Centre had issued a notice to Twitter giving it one last chance to "immediately" comply with the new IT rules and warned that failure to adhere to the norms will lead to the platform losing exemption from liability under the IT Act. The rules became effective from May 26 and Twitter, even after the expiry of the additional time, did not appoint the requisite officers, leading to it losing the ''safe harbour'' immunity.

Also Read: 'Will comply with new IT rules, need more time': Twitter tells Centre

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT, chaired by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, last week slammed the company saying the "law of the land is supreme" and not the company's policies. The committee told Twitter India's officials that the company will have to abide by the government's rules.

In response, the officials told the panel that "we follow our own policies," which was strongly objected to by the committee members, who categorically told the Twitter India officials that the company is not above the law of the land.

"We appreciate the opportunity to share our views before the Standing Committee on Information Technology. Twitter stands prepared to work with the Committee on the important work of safeguarding citizens' rights online, in line with our principles of transparency, freedom of expression, and privacy," a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement. The company will also continue to work alongside the Indian government as part of its shared commitment to serve and protect the public conversation, it said.