X says India’s demand to block accounts restricts freedom of expression

X claims India's demand to ban accounts limits freedom of expression

On Thursday, social networking site X said that it has taken down specific accounts and content in response to an order from the Indian government, which local media sources indicate is related to recent farmer demonstrations seeking higher crop prices.

The platform formerly known as Twitter did not disclose specifics on the removals but stated that it disagrees with the action and that it amounts to limiting freedom of speech.

The action highlights the difficulties faced by international internet behemoths operating in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which has frequently chastised Google, Facebook, and Twitter for failing to combat what it terms fraudulent or “anti-India” content.

X stated that its approach on the subject was consistent with its ongoing legal battle against the Indian government’s content-blocking orders.

“We will withhold these accounts and posts in India alone; however, we disagree with these actions and maintain that freedom of expression should extend to these posts,” X’s Global Government Affairs wrote in a post, without naming the accounts.

The declaration follows a week of demonstrations by thousands of Indian farmers who have camped 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of Delhi after police stopped their march to the capital and sprayed tear gas at crowds attempting to move ahead.

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According to the national newspaper Hindustan Times, the government issued “emergency” blocking orders last week that encompass the accounts of several farmers’ groups and sympathizers.

The internal affairs and information technology ministries did not immediately reply to calls for comment.

X’s Global Government Affairs stated that legal limits prevent it from publishing government instructions, but the platform wishes to retain openness.

“This lack of disclosure can lead to a lack of accountability and arbitrary decision-making,” it added.

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