The Union Minister said that he was locked out of his Twitter account allegedly over a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of the USA.

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad talking into a mic sitting on a blue chair
news Controversy Friday, June 25, 2021 - 16:14

Union Minister for Information and Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday, June 25 said that he was locked out of his Twitter account for an hour based on a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DGMA) notice. “Friends! Something highly peculiar has 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,” Ravi Shankar Prasad said. He also attached screenshots showing that his Twitter account had been locked. The Union Minister’s followers on Twitter were allowed to view his tweets, even while access to his account was cut off temporarily. 

Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, copyright owners can notify Twitter about infringements on their work, which Twitter is then liable to remove. Multiple DGMA notices lead to the suspension of the account. In a series of tweets, the minister said that the fact he was not able to access his account was in violation of Rule 4(8) of the new IT Rules, as Twitter did not give him prior notice before blocking access. 

He alleged that his statements calling out the high handedness and arbitrary actions of Twitter, particularly sharing the clips of my interviews to TV channels and its powerful impact, have clearly ruffled its feathers. “Further, 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 wrote.

The Union Minister went on to state that no television channel or anchor has filed complaints against copyright infringements with regard to his interviews being shared on social media. “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 alleged. Prasad also reiterated that platforms like Twitter will have to abide by the new IT Rules and “there shall be no compromise on that.”

This development on Friday comes amid controversies surrounding Twitter’s compliance with the new Information Technology Rules. Earlier this month, the social media giant had sought more time to comply with the IT Rules, even though the government had already served it a final notice on the same issue. More recently, Twitter’s India Managing Director Manish Mahesgwari was granted interim relief by the Karnataka High Court over a case filed by Ghaziabad police. The case pertained to a viral video of a viral video of an elderly Muslim man being attacked on camera.  

Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi responded to Ravi Shankar Prasad's tweet and said that the copyright issue is "unadressed and less known", and not a "conspiracy".

Congress Member of Parliament and President of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology Shashi Tharoor said that he, too, was locked out of his Twitter account for copyright issues. He also said that the Parliamentary Standing Committee will demand an explanation from Twitter regarding the matter.

Read: Twitter India MD gets notice from Ghaziabad police over viral assault video

Read: Twitter, journalists booked by UP cops for news on Ghaziabad beard chopping incident

Earlier in May, Twitter had also issued a statement expressing concern over the same new IT rules and “police intimidation”. This was after a post about a Congress ‘toolkit’ shared by some BJP functionaries, including spokesperson Sambit Patra, was given the ‘manipulated media’ tag. Following this, the Delhi police visited Twitter’s office in the national capital to serve a notice in the case.

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