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India’s IT minister blasts Twitter after being locked out of account amid state’s ongoing row with tech giant

India’s IT minister blasts Twitter after being locked out of account amid state’s ongoing row with tech giant
The minister for information technology in India has blasted Twitter after it locked him out of his account for an hour for an alleged copyright issue. New Delhi and Twitter are currently embroiled in a dispute over new IT rules.

On Friday, Ravi Shankar Prasad, India’s minister for communications, electronics and information technology, lambasted Twitter for temporarily blocking his account, saying the platform was not “the harbinger of free speech” that it claimed to be.

In a series of posts on Twitter, sent after he had regained access, the minister said that the decision to block him for almost an hour was evidence that Twitter are only interested in their own agenda and will arbitrarily remove users from their platform if you don’t “tow the line they draw.” 

Sharing screenshots showing that his account had been locked, he stated that Twitter blocked him on grounds that he was in violation of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

It is not clear which of Prasad’s posts allegedly contravened the DMCA, but Twitter confirmed to reporters that access was temporarily restricted because of a DMCA notice. The US firm also noted that a tweet was withheld.

“Per our copyright policy, we respond to valid copyright complaints sent to us by a copyright owner or their authorized representatives,” a Twitter spokesperson said.

Doubling down on previous comments, Prasad stated that Twitter, and any social media platform, will need to abide by India’s new IT rules, which have proven controversial among tech firms. 

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In recent months, India and Twitter have been embroiled in an ongoing row about the firm’s non-compliance with new IT rules. Under the rules, effective since May, social media firms operating in India are accountable to legal requests for the swift removal of posts on their platforms, and are also required to share details on the origins of the posts.

The rules state that the platform must remove the posts in question within 36 hours of an administrative or legal order being issued.

“If any foreign entity believes that they can portray itself as the flag bearer of free speech in India to excuse itself from complying with the law of the land, such attempts are misplaced,” Prasad previously stated in a series of tweets.

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