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Twitter grapples with India's strict rules for online speech

Twitter grapples with India's strict rules for online speech

Twitter announced on Tuesday that it has launched a lawsuit against the Indian government, the latest defense in the ongoing battle over the country's offensive speech laws. The lawsuit comes after Twitter was ordered to remove a series of accounts and posts that violated Indian obscenity and defamation laws, as The New York Times first reported. Twitter has now removed the posts, but is seeking judicial protection from such orders in future.

The battle began last May when India issued new IT rules for online content, shortly after police raids on Twitter's India offices. The following July, Indian regulators threatened to hold Twitter liable for any future violations by its users.

Broadly speaking, Twitter has long argued that it complies with local laws relating to speech – but Indian laws relating to obscenity and seditious speech are unusually offensive. In the past, the country has used speech laws to suppress widespread discussion of environmental concerns or internal political conflict. Lead author Arundhati Roy, who is facing sedition charges for her statements about the conflict in Kashmir, described the system as both anarchic and oppressive in a 2016 report on the issue. "The most frightening thing is that anyone can go insane and file a complaint against you," Roy said at the time. "It's a serious amount of harassment."

Twitter's legal battle is complicated by ongoing confusion about Elon Musk's attempt to buy the company and take it private. In June, Musk promised to emphasize free speech values ​​as the owner of Twitter, but also said he would abide by local laws and signal staff cuts, effectively defending the company's position in India. will do. It will be more difficult to do. Despite signing a deal to acquire the company, Musk himself continued to doubt whether the acquisition would take place, raising further doubts about the company's future.

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