Twitter complies with India’s new restrictive IT laws

Twitter is now in compliance with India’s new rules which govern IT companies, government lawyers have reportedly told a New Delhi Court. The move, as reported by TechCrunch, may bring to an end a months long battle between the government there and the messaging platform. This has seen the company hire a domestic compliance officer and an executive who can handle grievances from the authorities. The new rules are, broadly, designed to get social media platforms to delete content that officials deem unlawful within 36 hours of being reported and to aid in any subsequent police investigations.

India and Twitter’s relationship has been strained for much of this year, after Twitter refused to block critics of the Modi government. In April, the government threatened to jail Twitter employees unless they removed so-called inflammatory content around the so-called Farmer’s Protests. Shortly after, India successfully got the company to suppress tweets that criticized the company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Things got worse in May when, as reported by The New York Times, a spokesperson for India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tweeted an image purporting to be a leaked document from (rival party) the Indian National Congress. This image, which depicted a plan for opposition leaders to destabilize the government, was widely-retweeted by major political figures. Of course, the image was a fake, and Twitter added a label to the original tweet saying that contained “manipulated media.”

In June, India threatened Twitter with the loss of its legal immunity (similar to Section 230 in the US) from being responsible for the content its users post. In July, those protections were finally withdrawn and Indian officials were quick to file lawsuits — in one example, targeting Twitter’s Indian head, Manish Maheswari, over publication of a map that displayed the disputed territory of Kashmir as a separate country.

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