In a legal challenge that alleges official abuse of authority, Twitter on Tuesday urged an Indian court to overturn some government orders to remove content from the social media network, according to a source familiar with the situation.
The American company’s move to have the directives judicially reviewed is a part of a broader spat with New Delhi.
Over the past year, Twitter has received requests from Indian authorities to take action regarding content from accounts that support an independent Sikh state, posts that are alleged to have spread false information about farmer protests, and tweets that are critical of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A request for comment regarding Twitter’s legal action was not immediately answered by India’s information technology ministry on Tuesday.
Despite their legal standing, the Indian government has claimed that major social media companies, including Twitter, have not complied with removal requests.
The Indian IT ministry sent a warning to Twitter late last month, threatening it with criminal charges if it disobeyed some directives. According to the source, Twitter agreed this week in order to maintain the responsibility exemptions offered as a host of material.
Twitter argued that some removal orders did not follow the procedural requirements of India’s IT laws in a file with the top court in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, the source said, without indicating which ones it wanted examined.
The IT act gives the government the right, among other things, to obstruct public access to content for the sake of national security.
In its filing, Twitter—which, according to market research firms, has about 24 million users in India—also claims that some of the orders neglected to notify the material creators.
According to the source, some of them had to do with political content shared by official handles of political parties, and removing those accounts would be against the First Amendment.
When Twitter refused to fully comply with a request to remove accounts and messages that New Delhi said were disseminating false information regarding anti-government rallies by farmers, tensions with the Indian government erupted early last year.
Police in India have also been looking into the corporation, and last year a large number of Indian government politicians switched to the country’s own site Koo, accusing Twitter of breaking local rules.
Twitter has also come under fire in India for deactivating the accounts of powerful people, including politicians, citing policy violations.
The introduction of a government-run appeals panel with the authority to overturn social media companies’ content moderation decisions is one of the amendments India is considering to its new IT rules. Industry transparency reports show that India has among the highest government requests for content takedowns.
According to New Delhi, these actions were necessary since the firms had infringed the fundamental rights of Indians.