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Twitter wants Indian orders to take down content: Source

Twitter asked an Indian court to overturn some government orders to remove content from the social media platform, a source familiar with the matter said, in a legal challenge which alleges abuse of power by officials.

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Twitter asked an Indian court to overturn some government orders to remove content from the social media platform, a source familiar with the matter said, in a legal challenge which alleges abuse of power by officials.

The U.S. company's attempt to get a judicial review of the orders is part of a growing confrontation with New Delhi.

Twitter has been asked by Indian authorities over the past year to act on content including accounts supportive of an independent Sikh state, posts alleged to have spread misinformation about protests by farmers and over tweets critical of the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Be it any company, in any sector, they should abide the laws of India," India's IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told Reuters partner ANI on Tuesday, responding to questions about Twitter's legal move.

The Indian government has previously said that big social media firms, including Twitter, have not complied with removal requests, despite their legal standing.

Twitter, which market research firms say has nearly 24 million users in India, also argues in its filing that some of the orders failed to give notice to authors of the content.

It says that some were related to political content posted by official handles of political parties, the blocking of which amount to violation of freedom of speech, the source added.

"But equally ALL intermediary/platforms operating here, have unambiguous obligation to comply with our laws and rules," he said.

Tensions with the Indian government flared early last year when Twitter declined to fully comply with an order to take down accounts and posts which New Delhi alleged were spreading misinformation about anti-government protests by farmers.

The company has also been subject to police investigations in India, and last year many government ministers moved to domestically developed platform Koo, accusing Twitter of non-compliance with local laws.

Dwaipayan Bhattacharjee
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