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Twitter Fights India’s Order Compelling the Company to Block Some Tweets

That’s the headline on my newest story, out Tuesday. It begins:

Twitter Inc. said Tuesday it has filed a legal challenge against the Indian government’s orders that the social-media company block some users’ accounts and individual tweets in the country, ramping up a battle over online speech between U.S. tech giants and New Delhi.

In recent weeks, Twitter rendered unviewable in India tweets from a prominent Indian journalist and the founder of a popular fact-checking website, according to a public database of removal requests for online material. The two between them have more than two million followers.

The tweets, from journalist Rana Ayyub and from Mohammed Zubair of the Alt News website, referred to what they called an anti-Muslim climate in the country. Last month, the killing of a Hindu man by two Muslim men who said they were avenging an insult to Islam inflamed religious tensions in the country.

Orders from India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology compelling Twitter to block tweets “demonstrate excessive use of powers and are disproportionate,” according to a summary of the petition viewed by The Wall Street Journal. Twitter said it filed the application for a judicial review of the orders Tuesday in the high court of the state of Karnataka, where the company is registered.

If such orders aren’t followed, Twitter staff in the country could be imprisoned for up to seven years and face a fine, according to the country’s IT Act.

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