On Friday (June 25) morning, Twitter denied Union Electronics and Information Technology and Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad access to his own account on the micro-blogging site. Though the Twitter 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. Plase be aware that any additional notices against your account may result in your account being locked again and poetentially 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.”
Twitter has neither given any prior intimation before blocking access to account nor specified any content that was found violating the US laws on copyright. Rule 4 (8) of the newly notified Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 clearly stipulates that whenever a content that does not belong to the user is shared on a social media platform the social media intermediary shall ensure that prior to removing or disabling access, it has provided the user who has shared such a content with a notification explaining the action being taken and the grounds or reasons for such action. The intermediary must provide the user with an adequate and reasonable opportunity to dispute the action being taken by such intermediary. Twitter clearly has not followed this provision of the Rules before locking access to the Twitter account of Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Since the new IT Rules have come into effect Prasad has given interviews to various TV channels explaining the new rules. He has also criticised Twitter for not complying with the new Rules in these interviews. Shri Prasad has been posting clips of his TV interviews from his Twitter account. He has been posting clips of his TV interviews from his Twitter account for past many years and many other users also post this routinely.
However, it can be clearly seen that Twitter was not very comfortable with the posts criticising Twitter for non-compliance with the IT Rules and hence it threatened the IT Minister by denying access to his account for about an hour for alleged violation of copyright law of the USA. It is also learnt that no TV channel or the anchor who took interviews of the minister ever made any formal or informal complaint to the minister about sharing these clips on Twitter and violating the copyright laws.