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Twitter Says Its Business Will Close If Accounts Are Blocked Without Reasons; Karnataka High Court Issues Notice To Centre

Mustafa Plumber
26 July 2022 6:35 AM GMT
Twitter Says Its Business Will Close If Accounts Are Blocked Without Reasons; Karnataka High Court Issues Notice To Centre
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The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Central Government on a writ petition filed by Twitter Inc challenging the blocking orders issued by the Centre.A single bench of Justice Krishna S Dixit posted the matter to August 25. The Court has allowed Twitter to place the blocking orders before the Court in sealed cover. The Court also directed Twitter to share all documents...

The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Central Government on a writ petition filed by Twitter Inc challenging the blocking orders issued by the Centre.

A single bench of Justice Krishna S Dixit posted the matter to August 25. The Court has allowed Twitter to place the blocking orders before the Court in sealed cover. The Court also directed Twitter to  share all documents in sealed cover with Central Government Counsel.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the microblogging platform, submitted that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology issued blocking orders against nearly 1100 accounts. 

"Rules require for reasons to be recorded and furnished to us on why accounts should be blocked. That is not done. We are answerable to the account-holders why their accounts are blocked. If this continues, my whole business will close", Rohatgi submitted.

The bench told the senior counsel that it will have the hearing after two weeks, as Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta is infected with COVID. Rohatgi agreed and requested that the matter be posted on August 25.

The Central Government Counsel requested that the hearing be made in-camera (private). The bench said it will consider.

The petition filed by Twitter Inc says that several blocking orders issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY) under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act are "procedurally and substantially deficient of the provision" and "demonstrate excessive use of powers and are disproportionate".

The petition which was filed on Tuesday says that in June, the MeitY served Twitter a letter setting out serious consequences of non-compliance, including, of initiating criminal proceedings against Twitter's Chief Compliance Officer, and granted last opportunity to comply with a series of Blocking Orders. Failing to do so would lead to Twitter losing its safe harbor immunity as available to it under Section 79(1) of the IT Act, the MeiTY warned.

The social media giant in its plea said that due to the seriousness of these threats, Twitter has chosen to challenge several Blocking Orders issued by MeitY. It is said that under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, MeitY is authorized to issue Blocking Orders, for content reported by certain government agencies. This happens only in cases where MeitY has determined that blocking reported content is necessary under specific grounds in Section 69A— which are—-in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order, or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offense relating to above.

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