IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad slams Twitter for blocking his account over copyright violation

Union Minister for Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Social media platform Twitter temporarily blocked Union Information and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s account on Friday afternoon after receiving a complaint for violation of U.S. copyright law.

After his account was unblocked, Mr. Prasad lashed out at the microblogging platform, accusing it of violating the Information and Technology Act Rules by not giving him prior notice of the action, and of taking “highhanded and arbitrary” action against those who do not suit its agenda.

The incident comes in the midst of a tussle between the Centre and Twitter over the company’s failure to comply with the new IT Act Rules which came into effect a month ago.

Copyright infringement

Mr. Prasad said his account was blocked for almost an hour. He shared a screenshot of Twitter’s notice which said that it had received “a compliant Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice for content posted on your account”, and warned that “accruing multiple DMCA strikes could lead to a suspension of your account”.

“Twitter’s actions were in gross violation of Rule 4(8) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 where they failed to provide me any prior notice before denying me access to my own account,” Mr Prasad said. “It is apparent that my statements calling out the high handedness and arbitrary actions of Twitter, particularly sharing the clips of my interviews to TV channels and its powerful impact, have clearly ruffled its feathers.”

Indicating that Twitter’s action had been provoked by his sharing a news clip of his interview to a television channel, he added that no channel or anchor has previously made any complaints about copyright infringements with regard to such clips being shared on social media.

Arbitrary decision

“Further, it is now apparent as to why Twitter is refusing to comply with the Intermediary Guidelines because if Twitter does comply, it would be unable to arbitrarily deny access to an individual’s account which does not suit their agenda,” said Mr. Prasad.

“Twitter’s actions indicate that they are not the harbinger of free speech that they claim to be but are only interested in running their own agenda, with the threat that if you do not tow the line they draw, they will arbitrarily remove you from their platform,” he said.

The Minister concluded his Twitter thread by strongly reiterating that “no matter what any platform does they will have to abide by the new IT Rules fully and there shall be no compromise on that.”

The government says Twitter has failed to comply with the Rules, which require the appointment of a Chief Compliance Officer. The Centre has warned that this could cause the platform to lose intermediary status, which means that it could be held liable for any content posted by users.

Last week, the Uttar Pradesh Police filed an FIR against Twitter for the circulation of videos related to an attack in Ghaziabad. Previously, Twitter has also refused to remove posts on farmers protests which the government objected to, and has tagged posts by some BJP leaders with its “manipulated media” label.

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 10:57:57 AM |

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