Indian govt warns Twitter over non-removal of accounts tweeting about ‘farmer genocide’

The Indian government has sent a notice to social media platform Twitter warning it of penal action of non-compliance of its order to remove certain accounts and tweets that alleged “farmer genocide” in India, IANS reported. 

Twitter has been bombarded with tweets with the hashtag “#ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide, which, as per the government of India, was designed to “inflame passions” and “hatred”. 

The notice that has been issued by the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MEITY) says that the entire campaign motivates abuse, inflame and create tension in society on “unsubstantiated” grounds.

The ministry went on to add that incitement to genocide is not freedom of speech but a threat to law and order.

The government also pointed out that Twitter unilaterally unblocked accounts and tweets despite the government order. It said that Twitter is an intermediary and is obliged to follow the instructions of the government and refusal to do so will attract penal action. 

Twitter asked to block accounts

On January 31, MeiTY has passed an interim order for blocking more than 250 Twitter accounts and 1 hashtag under Section 69 A of the IT Act, 2000. 
 
The order was issued on the grounds that these accounts and hashtags were spreading misinformation about the protests and had the potential to lead to violence.  
 
The notice further said that the ministry is in receipt of the platform’s reply dated February 1, 2021, wherein Twitter declined to abide and obey the government’s orders.  

“Section 69A of the Act provides jurisdiction to the Central government in cases wherein it considers it necessary or expedient to direct an intermediary to block for access for public and or cause to be blocked for access by the public any information generated, transmitted, received, stored or hosted in any computer resource if the government is satisfied that the same is necessary or expedient in order to prevent incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to public order,” the notice read. 

“The direction to block the hashtag #ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide has been found to be instigating people to commit cognizable offences in relation to public order and security of the state,” it added. 

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