Number of Twitter URLs blocked by MeitY rising

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A total of 1,122 Twitter URLs were blocked till June 2022, 2,851 in 2021 as against 2,731 in 2020 and 1,041 in 2019 – up from 225 in 2018…reports Asian Lite News

The number of Twitter URLs blocked by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has shown a rise during the last few years, the Parliament was told on Wednesday.

A total of 1,122 Twitter URLs were blocked till June 2022, 2,851 in 2021 as against 2,731 in 2020 and 1,041 in 2019 – up from 225 in 2018, 588 in 2017, 194 in 2016, 15 in 2015, and 8 in 2014, Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.

Section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 empowers the Ministry to block information in any computer resource in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence relating to above, he said.

For blocking of information, the MeitY follows the due process as specified in the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009, he added.

In line with the objective of the government to ensure an open, safe, trusted and Accountable Internet for all its users, MeitY issued directions for blocking to Twitter to block URLs including accounts under provision of Section 69A of the IT Act, 2000. MeitY does not maintain data regarding the period of existence of accounts that were suspended by Twitter, the Minister said.

Meanwhile, Karnataka High Court on Tuesday issued a notice to the ruling BJP government at the Centre in connection with the order asking to block nearly 1,100 Twitter accounts by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

The single division bench headed by Justice Krishna S. Dixit gave the order after the arguments by senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Twitter, explained that if the blocking order continues, the whole business of Twitter will close. For the accounts to be blocked, as per rules reasons have to be recorded and given to the microblogging platform which is not being done.

The petitioner (Twitter) is answerable to account holders for blocking their accounts, he submitted.

The bench posted the matter for hearing on August 25, and assured to consider the plea by the counsel of the central government to make the hearing in-camera.

Twitter had submitted in its petition that blocking orders by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY) under IT Act are demonstrating excessive use of powers and disproportionate.

The microblogging platform contended that, MeiTY has served a notice warning serious consequences of non-compliance of blocking orders. The notice has also warned of criminal proceedings and stated that it would be a lost opportunity if not complied with the orders of blocking accounts.

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