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Twitter’s lawsuit over censorship in India has been dismissed

Last year, Twitter sued India over orders to block content within the country, saying the government had applied its 2021 IT laws “arbitrarily and disproportionately.” Now, India’s Karnataka High Court has dismissed the plea, with a judge saying Twitter had failed to explain why it delayed complying with the new laws in the first place, TechCrunch has reported. The court also imposed a 5 million rupee ($61,000 fine) on the Elon Musk-owned firm. 

“Your client (Twitter) was given notices and your client did not comply. Punishment for non-compliance is seven years imprisonment and unlimited fine. That also did not deter your client,” the judge told Twitter’s legal representation. “So you have not given any reason why you delayed compliance, more than a year of delay… then all of sudden you comply and approach the Court. You are not a farmer but a billon dollar company.”

Twitter’s relationship with India was fraught for much of 2021. In February, the government threatened to jail Twitter employees unless the company removed content related to protests by farmers held that year. Shortly after that, India ordered Twitter to pull tweets criticizing the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. More recently, the government ordered Twitter to block tweets from Freedom House, a nonprofit organization that claimed India was an example of a country where freedom of the press is on the decline.

Those incidents put Twitter in a compromising situation. It either had to comply with government orders to block content (and face censorship criticism inside and outside the country), or ignore them and risk losing its legal immunity. In August, it complied with the orders and took down content as ordered.

The court order follows recent comments from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, saying that India threatened to raid employees homes if it didn’t comply with orders to remove posts and accounts. In a tweet, India’s deputy minister for information technique called that “an outright lie” saying Twitter was “in non-compliance with the law.” 

Twitter filed the suit around the same time that Elon Musk started trying to wiggle out of buying Twitter. Since then, Twitter has often complied with government takedown requests — most recently in Turkey, where it limited access to some tweets ahead of a tightly contested election won by incumbent president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/twitters-lawsuit-over-censorship-in-india-has-been-dismissed-114031691.html?src=rss

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