The Center’s order to block the account must contain the reasons: Twitter to Karnataka HC

The microblogging platform Twitter has submitted to the Karnataka High Court that orders issued by the Center to block accounts must contain the reasons for such directives.

New Delhi,UPDATED: October 27, 2022 8:23 PM IST

Twitter argued before the Karnataka HC that blocking orders issued by the Union Government must contain reasons. (Representative image)

By Kanu Sarda: Microblogging platform Twitter on Thursday, October 27, told the Karnataka High Court that an order issued by the Center to block an account should list the reasons for the same. Twitter’s submission was part of an ongoing dispute with the Union government over the blocking of social media accounts.

Twitter also insisted that a standard be put in place so that, if necessary, the order (issued under section 69A of the Computers Act 2000) could be challenged.

Section 69 A of the Information Technology Act grants the “power to issue directions to block public access to any information through any computer resource”.

Lead attorney Ashok Haranahalli, who appeared for Twitter, argued at length before Judge Krishna Dixit and stressed that a reasoned order to block any social media account is a necessity. He said, “The Indian government’s defense is not that due to overwhelming public interest, the reasons are not disclosed. How can I go to court if I don’t know the reasons?”

The court hears arguments from Twitter and the Union Government over orders issued by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) between February 2021 and February 2022 to block 39 Uniform Resource Locators (URLs ).

He added: “Suppose a defamatory article is published and the intermediary cannot be arrested for it. Blocking accounts and tweets is something else. But you will not be responsible for anything. authorities must come to the satisfaction that the content affects India’s interest, sovereignty, etc. and for such blocking orders, it is necessary to have in place an appropriate reasoned order.”

Haranahalli further stated that account-level blocking is tantamount to blocking future information and said, “Just because it is against our interests, should we block a foreign handle?”

In this regard, Justice Dixit observed that newspapers and social media have an important role to play in shaping the opinions of citizens in general on any ongoing event in the country.

The court adjourned the hearing until November 16, when the Center will present its case.

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