India’s IT Ministry accuses Elon Musk’s X of systematic non-compliance

In a recent legal filing, the Indian government characterised X as a ‘habitual non-compliant platform,’ citing that it consistently fails to comply with government orders to remove content.

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The Indian government has accused Elon Musk’s social media platform X of being a ‘habitual non-compliant platform’ that has consistently failed to follow government orders to remove content. These allegations were made in a non-public filing by India’s IT ministry to the high court in Karnataka, dealing with a legal challenge brought by X against a government fine. In June, the platform was fined 5 million rupees for not complying with content blocking orders, which it is contesting, citing concerns that it might empower New Delhi to further restrict content and expand censorship efforts.

On the other hand, the government argues that X’s non-compliance undermines its role in a democratic setup and that the platform has a low compliance rate with government requests. India contends that X’s attempts to judge the merits of government orders would set a dangerous precedent, making social media platforms the final arbiters of lawful orders.

This legal battle continues as Elon Musk’s Tesla explores plans to establish a factory in India for manufacturing electric vehicles.

Why does it matter?

The ongoing dispute between India and X dates back to 2021, when the platform declined to block specific accounts linked to farmer protests. Since then, it has received requests to remove content on contentious topics, such as advocating for an independent Sikh state and criticising the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These developments not only raise critical questions regarding freedom of expression and the role of social media in democratic societies but also come when Elon Musk is expressing economic interests in India. This factor could potentially influence the resolution of this situation.