Twitter locks out Ravi Shankar Prasad temporarily, the minister behind India’s latest IT rules

Twitter locks out Ravi Shankar Prasad temporarily, the minister behind India’s latest IT rules
  • Twitter locked out union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad over violation of the copyright law.
  • Prasad has claimed that the temporary ban was in violation of the latest IT rules.
  • The Twitter account was still up for public viewing, but Prasad was denied permission to log in.
Microblogging platform Twitter, which has been in tussle with the Indian government over the new information technology (IT) rules, banned the personal account of union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad over violation of the copyright law. The account was reinstated after an hour.

The Twitter account was still up for public viewing, but IT minister Prasad was denied permission to log in for almost an hour.

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"Twitter denied access to my account for almost an hour on the alleged ground that there was a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of the USA and subsequently they allowed me to access the account," Prasad tweeted on Friday, June 25.

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Twitter locks out Ravi Shankar Prasad temporarily, the minister behind India’s latest IT rules

Under the DMCA, copyright owners can notify Twitter claiming that a user has infringed their copyrighted works. Twitter generally identifies and removes the said material. It also holds the right to suspend accounts over repeated copyright infringements.

Union minister Prasad has added that Twitter’s action to deny access to his account was in gross violation of the IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules of 2021 that was released earlier this year. Notably, Twitter has not yet complied with the new amendments, but is committed to comply soon. It has appointed a temporary grievance officer in India as well.

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Coincidently, Prasad is the minister of electronics that has rolled out the IT rules amendment this year. He also holds other portfolios like law and justice, and communication.

The said IT rules give the Indian government greater control over social media, digital news portals and over-the-top (OTT) platforms. However, Twitter and instant messaging app WhatsApp, have been reluctant to comply with them.

WhatsApp has also sued the Indian government over one clause of the rules that mandates the instant messaging app to share information of the ‘first originator’ of a message. The Facebook-owned company says that it will have to break its encryption policy in order to comply with the clause and it will hamper the privacy of the users.

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Twitter on the other hand has sought an extension to comply with the Indian law. “We plan to advocate for changes to elements of these regulations that inhibit free, open public conversation. We will continue our constructive dialogue with the Indian Government and believe it is critical to adopt a collaborative approach. It is the collective responsibility of elected officials, industry, and civil society to safeguard the interest of the public,” the company said in a public statement last month.

In case any social media platform does not comply with any of these roles, they can lose the safe harbour provided to them under the Indian law. Safe Harbour provision, under the Section 79 of the IT Act of 2000, treats social media platforms as an intermediary and not the owner of the content.

SEE ALSO:
Twitter may now directly be held responsible for every single tweet in India
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