X Corp is taking the Indian government to court over tweet blocking, spotlighting digital freedom and transparency in social media.
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A Legal Battle for Transparency
In a significant legal challenge, X Corp, formerly known as Twitter, has taken a stand against the Indian government in the Karnataka High Court.
On January 29, the company raised serious questions about the government’s refusal to disclose the review committee’s orders that supported the blocking of tweets on its platform.
This move by X Corp underscores a growing concern over freedom of expression and government transparency in digital spaces.
The Dispute’s Origins
The dispute traces back to the Indian government’s orders issued between 2021 and 2022, demanding blocking certain tweets.
A prior ruling by a single judge had dismissed X Corp’s objections to these orders and fined the company ₹50 lakh.
Bar and Bench, a legal news portal, extensively covered this development.
X Corp’s Argument for Openness
Represented by Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya, X Corp argued in court that a review committee upheld many of the government’s blocking orders.
However, the government tagged these committee orders as “top secret” and denied X Corp access.
Poovayya pointed out the contradiction in this secrecy, especially when legal provisions require reasons to be recorded for such orders.
The Essence of the Dispute
As Poovayya highlighted, the crux of the matter is transparency and the ability to challenge government orders effectively.
Without access to the review committee’s decisions, X Corp argued that it was handicapped in contesting the blockings.
Poovayya revealed that the committee had sometimes ruled in favor of X Corp, ordering content unblocking.
Free Speech at the Core of X Corp’s Business
Emphasizing the importance of free speech for X Corp, Poovayya contended that the lack of clarity and openness in the government’s review process directly impacts the platform’s mission to foster free expression.
The debate also touches upon procedural norms and the rights of foreign entities under Indian constitutional provisions.
Awaiting Government’s Response
In response, the central government’s legal team sought a week to deliberate, particularly on the issue of making the review order public. The court has scheduled the next hearing for February 12.
Previous Judicial Actions and Ongoing Legal Proceedings
The Karnataka High Court had earlier ruled against X Corp, mandating a hefty fine for non-compliance with the blocking orders.
X Corp challenged this decision, leading to a temporary stay by the High Court division bench, contingent on X Corp depositing ₹25 lakh as a sign of good faith.
The Bigger Picture in Digital Rights
This ongoing legal tussle between X Corp and the Indian government is more than a corporate dispute.
It is a critical moment that could define the future of digital rights and government accountability in India’s social media realm.
The outcome of this case is eagerly awaited, as it has the potential to influence how content moderation and government directives are handled on digital platforms across the country.