Over the past few days, Twitter has removed dozens of posts criticizing the Indian government for its handling of the pandemic. The withdrawal responded to a legal request from the country’s authorities, according to a spokesperson for the company.
India is at the worst of the pandemic. On Monday (26), the country broke its fifth consecutive record, with 353 thousand new cases per day. There are collapsing hospitals, a lack of oxygen for patients, and lines for cremating bodies.
Among the deleted messages were messages from a West Bengal lawyer, filmmaker and secretary of state, opposing the national government, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Suppression of information and criticism of the government is not only dangerous for India, but it puts people around the world at risk,” said Mirza Saaib Beg, a lawyer who deleted the messages.
“The freedom to question is integral to freedom of expression. These restrictions reflect the weakening of all institutional spaces in India,” said Beg, who studies in Oxford, UK. Wanted, the Indian government did not respond to the message blocking.
The national government and state authorities are under arrest for lowering their guard at the start of the year and authorizing large events with crowds, such as religious holidays and political rallies, which have encouraged the spread of the virus.
“The questioning of the government’s decision to liberate mass settlements, in which people across the country have violated Covid protocols, cannot be considered a violation of any law,” says Pawan Khera, spokesperson. word of the INC (Indian National Congress) party.), As opposed to Modi, whose posts were also deleted.
The takedown requests were analyzed in accordance with Twitter rules and local law, a company spokeswoman said. For the Internet Freedom Foundation, an Indian digital rights group, there is a lack of transparency in the action. “What is clear is that there are more orders placed for social media platforms in India,” the organization said in a statement.
Twitter has around 17.5 million users in India, a country of 1.3 billion people.
In its latest transparency report, the company said it had received 42,220 court orders to remove content from 53 countries. Five governments concentrate most of them, including Russia, India and Turkey. Earlier this year, Twitter suspended dozens of accounts, at the behest of the Indian government, which said the posts brought misinformation about farmer protests in New Delhi and the posts incited violence.
In January, farmers went on hunger strike and drove to the capital on tractors to protest the government’s proposed changes, which in practice remove minimum prices for produce. The government has decided to reduce access to the Internet in an attempt to demobilize the acts.
After that, the Indian government created tougher rules on social media and said measures were needed to hold companies accountable for abuse. “We would prefer any open space to objectively critique power in the offline and online worlds. However, both spaces are getting smaller and smaller,” Beg said.