Twitter Locks IT Minister’s Account, Sparks Row

Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad (File Image)

Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday said that Twitter denied access to his account for almost an hour over alleged violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of the USA and asserted that its actions were in gross violation of the Information Technology Rules 2021.

In a series of tweets, the minister slammed Twitter and said its actions indicate that “they are not the harbinger of free speech that they claim to be” and are “only interested in running their own agenda”. Prasad said no matter what any platform does they will have to abide by the new IT Rules fully and there shall be no compromise on that.

“Friends! Something highly peculiar happened today. Twitter denied access to my account for almost an hour on the alleged ground that there was a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of the USA and subsequently they allowed me to access the account,” Prasad said.

“Twitter’s actions were in gross violation of Rule 4(8) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 where they failed to provide me any prior notice before denying me access to my own account,” he added.

Meanwhile, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s account was also blocked by the microblogging site today, citing violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

“Raviji, the same thing just happened to me. Clearly DMCA is getting hyperactive. This tweet has been deleted by @Twitter because its video includes the copyrighted BoneyM song “Rasputin”,” Tharoor tweeted in response to Prasad’s tweet.

Prasad, who is also Law Minister, said it is apparent that his statements “calling out the high handedness and arbitrary actions of Twitter, particularly sharing the clips of interviews to TV channels and its powerful impact, have clearly ruffled its feathers.”

“Twitter’s actions indicate that they are not the harbinger of free speech that they claim to be but are only interested in running their own agenda, with the threat that if you do not tow the line they draw, they will arbitrarily remove you from their platform,” he said.

Prasad, who is also Communications Minister, said it is now apparent as to why Twitter is refusing to comply with the Intermediary Guidelines because if Twitter does comply, “it would be unable to arbitrarily deny access to an individual’s account which does not suit their agenda”.

The minister said in the past several years, no television channel or any anchor has made any complaints about copyright infringements with regard to these news clips of his interviews shared on social media.

Twitter denied Prasad access to his own account this morning. Though the account of the Minister was visible for public viewing, Twitter did not permit anyone authorized to access this account to log in or make any post.

When the Minister and his team tried to log in to the Twitter account ‘@rsprasad’ Twitter showed a message saying, “Your account has been locked because Twitter received a compliant Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Notice for content posted to your Twitter account. Under the DMCA copyright owners can notify Twitter claiming that a user has infringed their copyrighted works. Upon receipt of a valid notice, Twitter will remove the identified material. Twitter maintains a repeat copyright infringer policy under repeat infringer accounts will be suspended. Accruing multiple DMCA strikes may lead to suspension of your account.”

About an hour later, Twitter unlocked access to the account by posting a warning message to the Minister’s account stating, “Your account is now available for use. Please be aware that any additional notices against your account may result in your account being locked again and potentially suspended. In order to avoid this, do not post additional material in violation of our Copyright Policy and immediately remove any material from your account for which you are not authorised to post.”

Prasad had earlier said that Twitter had “deliberately chosen” not to comply with new intermediary guidelines despite being given opportunities.

He had also said that profit-making companies should not lecture about India’s democracy.

(With ANI Inputs)

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