India’s Information and Technology Ministry has reportedly warned Twitter of legal action if the micro-blogging site fails to comply with the government’s directions to block around 250 accounts that participated in sharing information with some specific hashtags like #ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide.
The Indian government’s request to Twitter falls under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 concerning provocative and intimidating posts on a public domain.
"It needs to be mentioned that Section 69A provides for specific penal consequences in case of non-compliance of the directions issued under section 69A of the Act", official sources have revealed to the media, citing off-record statements by India's IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
On 1 February, Twitter began withholding or blocking accounts listed by the Indian government that included publications and farmer unions like The Caravan India, Kisan Ekta Morcha, Tractor2twitr, and jatt_junction, among others.
At the time, a Twitter blog post explained that, “such withholdings will be limited to the specific jurisdiction that has issued the valid legal demand or where the content has been found to violate local law(s)”.
“If we receive a valid and properly scoped request from an authorised entity, it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time”, Twitter said in its post.
For now, the situation between Twitter and the Indian government concerning blocking some accounts remains delicate.
Aiming to control the spread of misinformation among the masses via social networking sites, the central government has extended a ban on the Internet in some parts of the national capital, especially Delhi's borders – where farmers have been gathering to protest against three newly passed farm laws since 29 November.