Twitter Plea Against Government’s Takedown Orders Adjourned by High Court

The Karnataka High Court has adjourned the hearing of the petition filed by microblogging site Twitter against the Central government’s takedown orders to December 12.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology sought time to present its arguments in the case following which Justice Krishna S Dixit adjourned the case on Wednesday.

Twitter has approached the High Court challenging the several blocking directions issued to it to remove tweets, accounts and URLs on the platform.

The social media platform, in its petition filed in June 2022, claimed that the Centre was required to issue notice to the owners of the Twitter handles against whom blocking orders are issued. The company claimed that it was barred from even informing its account holders about the takedown.

Senior advocates Arvind Datar and Ashok Haranahalli have argued on behalf of Twitter before the High Court in the last two months.

The main argument so far on behalf of Twitter is that the government’s blocking orders are against the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court in the Shreya Singhal case. This was the case in which the Supreme Court struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act.

Twitter has argued that those whose accounts are to be taken down should be served a notice beforehand. It has also submitted the list of accounts, tweets and URLs that the government has asked it to remove between February 2, 2021 and February 28, 2022.

The issue is regarding 10 government orders during this period in which the Centre directed the microblogging site to block 1,474 accounts, 175 Tweets, 256 URLs and one hashtag.

Twitter is, however, challenging the orders related to 39 of these URLs. In an earlier hearing, Twitter also submitted a 300-page compilation of how such issues are handled in various countries.

The blocking orders are under Section 69A of the IT Act which provides for blocking of content that is against the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, pertains to defence of India, security of State, friendly relationship with foreign states, public order and content which provokes or incites commission of any offence.

Twitter has claimed that the orders are not in consonance with Section 69A of the IT Act.

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