Twitter is stuck between a rock and a hard place in India as the government threatened to jail employees of the social media company for seven years if it does not comply withIndian government.
But Twitter intends to protect the speech of its users which might cost the business in one of the company’s most vital market and risks the lives of its employees.
According to the company on Wednesday, the Indian government served its numerous blocking orders against hundreds of Twitter accounts in the past 10 days.
Early last week, it briefly suspended many of those accounts at the government’s behest but reinstated them a few hours later after a public outcry, including one handle with over 200,000 followers supporting the ongoing protests by farmers against new agricultural reforms and another belonging to one of the country’s most prominent magazines.
Twitter, argued that it complied with the Indian law while restoring these account but was, however, slammed with a non-compliance notice by India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, threatening to jail its employees for as much as seven years.
Twitter did not provide details on the contents of the notice, and the Indian government did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The social media company testified that some of the accounts flagged by the government were in clear violation of the company’s rules. It disclosed that it took action against over 500 accounts and also made made several other accounts only visible outside India and restricted the visibility of certain hashtags containing harmful content.
But Twitter also drew a line in the sand.
“Because we do not believe that the actions we have been directed to take are consistent with Indian law, and, in keeping with our principles of defending protected speech and freedom of expression, we have not taken any action on accounts that consist of news media entities, journalists, activists, and politicians.
“We will continue to maintain dialogue with the Indian government and respectfully engage with them.”
Indian government had previously disputed with platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp and has proposed regulations that would expand its ability to police content online.