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Twitter Co-founder, Jack Dorsey, reveals India’s repeated requests for post and account removals, accompanied by threats of legal consequences, despite being the world’s largest democracy. According to Dorsey, India frequently demanded the removal of posts and accounts related to the farmers’ protests and critical journalists. In early 2021, Twitter faced orders from the Indian government to suspend hundreds of accounts and restrict certain hashtags, with the threat of legal action looming. Many of the suspended accounts had shown support for the farmers’ protests against proposed legislation.
Dorsey shared that the Indian government’s demands came with statements like “we will shut Twitter down in India” and “we would raid the homes of your employees,” which were eventually carried out. These actions by a democratic country like India were highlighted by Dorsey during an interview with Breaking Points.
In the past, Twitter had resisted government directives to remove content or suspend accounts, even suing the Indian government over imposed block orders. However, compared to its American counterparts, Twitter took a longer time to comply with India’s new IT regulations. These regulations require companies to disclose contact information for regulatory compliance representatives and establish mechanisms for grievance redressal.
During the noncompliance period in 2021, the Delhi Police conducted surprise visits to two of Twitter’s offices in India. Twitter expressed concerns about the potential threat to freedom of expression for its users in India.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, India’s federal deputy minister for information technology, refuted Dorsey’s claims, accusing him of trying to brush off Twitter’s questionable history. Chandrasekhar stated that Twitter repeatedly violated Indian law from 2020 to 2022 and only achieved compliance in June 2022. He emphasized that India has the right to ensure compliance with its laws by all companies operating within its borders. Chandrasekhar mentioned the need to remove misinformation during the protests in January 2021 to prevent the spread of fake news and potential escalation of the situation.