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Row over ‘blocking orders’: What is the legal regime in other countries, HC asks Twitter  

September 26, 2022 08:50 pm | Updated 08:50 pm IST - Bengaluru

The micro-blogging platform had questioned the legality of a series of ‘blocking orders’, issued by the authorities under the Information Technology (Procedures and Safeguards for Blocking of Access to Information by Public) Rules, 2009, either to block Twitter accounts or identify contents of specific accounts.

The micro-blogging platform had questioned the legality of a series of ‘blocking orders’, issued by the authorities under the Information Technology (Procedures and Safeguards for Blocking of Access to Information by Public) Rules, 2009, either to block Twitter accounts or identify contents of specific accounts. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

The High Court of Karnataka on Monday asked Twitter to apprise the court, about the legal regime in other countries similar to India’s content regulation through the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, and the rules framed under this law, which governs the digital transactions and communications.

Justice Krishna S. Dixit, during a hearing on Twitter’s petition against ‘content blocking’, asked the advocate representing Twitter to try to get information on the legal regime in other countries on this issue to understand the laws prevailing.

The micro-blogging platform had questioned the legality of a series of ‘blocking orders’, issued by the authorities under the Information Technology (Procedures and Safeguards for Blocking of Access to Information by Public) Rules, 2009, either to block Twitter accounts or identify contents of specific accounts.

Advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for Twitter, reiterated the claim in the petition that ‘blocking orders’ could not have been passed sans issuing notices to the account holders. He also contented that Twitter could not intimate the ‘block orders’ to the account holders in view of the confidential clause.

In many ‘blocking orders’, Twitter was told to block the entire account even though Section 69A of the IT Act allows only blocking of ‘information’, he argued.

Mr. Data questioned the legality of ‘blocking’ Twitter accounts in relation to certain tweets on farmers’ agitations, when similar content was being published or telecast in newspapers and on television.

He also claimed that some of the tweets ordered to be blocked were ‘innocuous’ tweets and there was no justification by the authorities to block such tweets or accounts even though the authorities should assign reasons in writing.

Ordering blocking of the accounts would affect Twitter’s business, Mr. Datar said, in reply to the court’s query on how it would be affected, if the authorities failed to issue notices to the account holders before blocking the accounts.

Further hearing has been adjourned till October 17.

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