India receives orders from Musk’s X to withhold accounts and tweets

X, formerly known as Twitter, said Wednesday it is withholding specific accounts and posts in India, action it said the firm disagrees with, in response to executive orders issued by the Indian government. Non-compliance with the executive orders, X said, would have subjected the firm to “potential penalties including significant fines and imprisonment.”X’s Global Government Affairs said legal restrictions prevent it from publishing the executive orders, but “we believe that making them public is essential for transparency.” X will file a writ appeal challenging the Indian government’s blocking orders, it said, and has notified users who are impacted by the orders. The disclosure from X follows New Delhi ordering to temporarily block about 177 accounts and posts surrounding farmers’ protests in the country. As privacy advocate Apar Gupta wrote in a recent post on X:Blocking orders for Twitter accounts of farm leaders have been issued in advance. This is not surprising, what does provide anguish is the vile commentary against farmers on social media.

X, formerly known as Twitter, made a shocking announcement on Wednesday, revealing that it is withholding specific accounts and posts in India, a decision they strongly oppose. This decision was made in response to executive orders issued by the Indian government, citing potential penalties, such as fines and imprisonment, for non-compliance.

X’s Global Government Affairs team stated that legal limitations prevent them from disclosing the executive orders to the public; however, they firmly believe that transparency is crucial and intend to file a writ appeal challenging the government’s blocking orders. In the meantime, they are informing impacted users of the situation.

“This lack of disclosure can lead to a lack of accountability and arbitrary decision-making,” cautioned X.

The disclosure from X came after New Delhi ordered the temporary blocking of approximately 177 accounts and posts related to farmers’ protests happening in the nation. Earlier this year, the government had also blocked certain social media accounts in anticipation of these protests, where farmers are demanding an increase in minimum support prices for their produce.

India is a significant market for global tech companies, but the amended IT rules in the South Asian market grant the government greater authority to enforce compliance from internet services in the country.

As privacy advocate Apar Gupta expressed in a recent post on X’s actions:

  • Blocking orders for Twitter accounts of farm leaders have been issued in advance.
  • This form of pre-censorship is carried out without any transparency or natural justice.
  • Under new ownership, Twitter will no longer disclose the URLs to the Lumen Database, eliminating any transparency.
  • The Karnataka High Court ruling, which was based on theocratic reasoning instead of constitutional, was also lost. (Note: this is unrelated but noteworthy)

He continued to write, “The government, on the other hand, is not willing to disclose or be held accountable for their actions. Why block entire accounts in advance? Is the account itself illegal? These questions will not be asked, as fewer people are questioning them today than two years ago. As their march for total power becomes more menacing, they demand greater levels of social compliance. This is not surprising, but what is deeply concerning is the hateful remarks made against farmers on social media. It is easy to forget that nearly 750 protestors have lost their lives. Have we, as a society, completely lost our ability to handle disagreements respectfully?”

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Max Chen

Max Chen is an AI expert and journalist with a focus on the ethical and societal implications of emerging technologies. He has a background in computer science and is known for his clear and concise writing on complex technical topics. He has also written extensively on the potential risks and benefits of AI, and is a frequent speaker on the subject at industry conferences and events.

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