In six months of 2022, the order to block Twitter content, manages the image of the past 2019

The content and account blocking orders issued by the Center on Twitter in the first six months of 2022 exceeded the number of such orders issued on the social media platform in the whole of 2019. According to data shared by Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajiv Chandrasekhar with the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, 1,122 blocking orders were issued on Twitter till June 2022, compared to 1,041 such orders in the whole of 2019.

In 2021, Twitter issued 2,851 blocking orders under Section 69(A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000, the highest for any year, revealing data shared by Chandrasekhar. This coincided with the microblogging platform blocking more than 250 accounts for sharing “provocative” tweets about the then-ongoing farmers’ protests and receiving an order from the government to take down some tweets critical of the government’s handling of Covid-19.

Notably, 2021 was also the year when a team from Delhi Police’s Special Cell knocked on the doors of Twitter India’s Delhi and Gurgaon offices ostensibly to serve a notice on the social media platform after the platform flagged some posts by ruling party leaders alleging Congress conspiracies. Insulting the Prime Minister and the central government as “manipulated media”.

Section 69(a) of the IT Act, 2000 allows the Center to issue orders blocking social media intermediaries “in the commission of any cognizable offense related to the “sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states or publics” or any of the above. To prevent persuasion”.

According to the rules that govern these blocking orders, any request for blocking by the government is referred to a review committee, which then issues the final order.

Data shared with Parliament also revealed that since at least 2016, blocking orders issued on Twitter have made up a large portion of the total blocking orders issued on social media platforms each year, with an exception in 2018. For example, in a reply in the Lok Sabha in December last year, Union Electronics and IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnab said that in 2016, the government had issued a total of 633 blocking orders under Section 69(A) of the IT Act. In the same year, 194 blocking orders were issued on Twitter, accounting for more than 30 percent of all blocking orders issued that year, according to data presented by Chandrasekhar on Wednesday.

Similarly, in 2017, the government issued a total of 1,385 blocking orders, of which 588 were issued on Twitter, accounting for more than 42 percent of all blocking orders. To be sure, total blocking orders can be issued on various social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, along with website blocking orders issued to various Telecom Service Providers (TSPs).

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In 2018, censorship orders on Twitter took a downward turn, accounting for 8 percent of the 2,799 blocking orders issued that year. In 2019, Twitter received more than 28 percent of the total 3,635 blocking orders and in 2020, it received more than 27 percent of the total 9,849 blocking orders.

Between February 2021 and 2022, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) reportedly ordered Twitter to remove over 1,400 accounts and 175 tweets under Section 69 (A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000. Twitter has moved the Karnataka High Court, seeking to set aside the blocking order for 39 of those links flagged by the ministry, 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 the government to various social media companies and TSPs 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. .

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