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The content and account blocking orders issued by the Center to Twitter in the first six months of 2022 exceeded the number of such orders issued to the social media platform in the entire year 2019. According to data shared by Electronics and IT Minister Rajeev Chandrashekhar with the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, Twitter was up to In June 2022, 1,122 blocking orders were issued, compared to 1,041 such orders for the whole of 2019.
In 2021, 2,851 blocking orders were issued on Twitter under Section 69(A) of the Information Technology Act, the year 2000 was the most for any year, data shared by Chandrashekhar revealed. This coincides with the micro-blogging platform blocking more than 250 accounts for sharing “provocative” tweets due to then-ongoing farmer protests and the company receiving orders from the government to remove some tweets critical of the government’s handling of Covid-19 .
Notably, 2021 was also the year when a team of the Delhi Police’s Special Cell knocked on the doors of Twitter’s India branches in Delhi and Gurgaon to ostensibly deliver a notice to the social media platform after the platform flagged some posts by ruling party leaders on alleged Congress conspiracies. defaming the Prime Minister and the central government as “manipulated media”.
Section 69 (A) of the IT Act, 2000 allows the Center to issue blocking orders to social media intermediaries “in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the defense of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or the public.” enjoin or prevent the incitement to the commission of any known offense connected with the above”.
Under the rules governing these blocking orders, any request by the government to block is further referred to a review board, which then issues final instructions.
Data shared with Parliament also revealed that since at least 2016, blocking orders issued on Twitter have accounted for a significant proportion of the total number of blocking orders issued to social media platforms each year, except in 2018. For example, in a reply in the Lok Sabha last December Union Electronics and IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that in 2016, the government issued a total of 633 blocking orders under Section 69(A) of the IT Act. In the same year, according to data presented by Chandrashekhar on Wednesday, 194 blocking orders were issued on Twitter, meaning it accounted for more than 30 percent of all blocking orders issued that year.
Similarly, the government issued a total of 1,385 blocking orders in 2017, of which 588 were issued to Twitter, representing more than 42 percent of all blocking orders. To be sure, blanket blocking orders can be issued to various social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, along with website blocking orders issued to various telecommunications service providers (TSPs).
In 2018, censorship orders on Twitter decreased, accounting for a paltry 8 percent of the 2,799 blocking orders issued that year. In 2019, Twitter accounted for more than 28 percent of the total 3,635 block orders and in 2020 received more than 27 percent of the total 9,849 block orders.
Between February 2021 and 2022, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is learned to have ordered Twitter to remove more than 1,400 accounts and 175 tweets under Section 69 (A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000. Twitter moved the Karnataka High Court with is seeking to lift blocking orders on 39 of those links flagged by the department, according to a petition filed by the social media giant earlier this month.
Incidentally, between 2014 and 2020, the number of content blocking orders issued by various social media companies and TSPs by the government also increased by nearly 2,000 percent – from 471 in 2014 to 9,849 in 2020, highlighting the growing trend of online censorship in India. .