Twitter 'withholds' 35 tweets after legal request from India

The account holder is notified directly so that the user is aware that Twitter has received a legal order pertaining to the account

New Delhi: Twitter has "withheld" about 35 tweets following a legal request from the Indian government, as per information on the Lumen database.

Twitter received a legal request from the Indian government on June 21 for action against 37 tweets, a document on Lumen database showed.

Given that the tweets have been withheld, the content could not be independently verified.

Upon clicking on the blocked URLs listed on the Lumen database, a message saying the tweet has been "withheld in IN in response to a legal demand" is displayed for 35 tweets.

Two links displayed the message "This Tweet is unavailable".

Lumen database is an independent research project studying cease and desist letters concerning online content, and requests received by Twitter for withholding content are published on its site.

When contacted, a Twitter spokesperson said: "As explained in our Country Withheld Policy, it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in response to a valid legal demand or when the content has been found to violate local law(s)."

The spokesperson noted that the withholdings are limited to the specific jurisdiction/country where the content is determined to be illegal.

The account holder is notified directly -- by sending a message to the email address associated with the account(s), if available -- so that the user is aware that Twitter has received a legal order pertaining to the account.

"The legal requests that we receive are detailed in the bianual Twitter Transparency Report, and requests to withhold content are published on Lumen," the spokesperson added.

Twitter had restricted 50 tweets recently after a legal request dated June 17.

The US-based company has been in the eye of a storm over failure to comply with the new IT rules in India, which mandates, among other requirements, the appointment of three key personnel -- chief compliance officer, nodal officer and grievance officer by social media platforms with over 50 lakh users. All the three personnel have to be resident in India.

While the rules came into effect on May 26, Twitter is yet to adhere to the social media guidelines, despite repeated reminders from the government.

Twitter on Friday briefly blocked IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad from accessing his account over an alleged copyright violation, ratcheting up tensions with the government as it came under renewed attack for not following local laws.

The government had earlier slammed Twitter for deliberate defiance and failure to comply with the IT rules, which has led to the US giant losing its legal shield as an 'intermediary' in India and becoming liable for users posting any unlawful content.

Twitter has an estimated 1.75 crore users in India, as per data cited by the government recently.

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