X challenges Indian court ruling over content removal compliance and censorship

The legal battle continues as X fears the Indian court decision in June may lead to more content blocks and freedom of expression restrictions.

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In a bid to fend off potential repercussions of increased content censorship, X, previously known as Twitter, is actively contesting an Indian court ruling that deemed the platform non-compliant with federal government directives to eliminate certain content. The company argues that the ruling may encourage an already stringent Indian government to impose further content blocks, limit freedom of speech, and extend the boundaries of censorship.

The legal battle commenced in July 2022 when X attempted to overturn the government’s orders demanding content removal from its platform. The tide turned against the platform when a court ruling in June 2023 dismissed its appeal and fined the US company 5 million rupees. Additionally, the Karnataka High Court emphasised that X, being a foreign corporation, does not possess the right to assert freedom of speech and personal liberties granted to Indian citizens under the country’s Constitution.

In response, X has lodged an appeal, submitting a comprehensive 96-page document, arguing that if the plea is rejected, it might give the Indian executive more authority to issue content blocking orders that could violate current laws.

Under their old name, Twitter, the company also published the ‘India Transparency Report’ for June 2023, to show how they process user grievances and their monitoring efforts.

In a move to bolster its control over internet expression, India implemented the Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code in February 2021, updated this year. These updated IT competencies include the establishment of a fact-checking unit aimed at flagging online content that is fake, false, or misleading, especially when related to the government. The new provisions have been seen as further tightening the grip of the Modi government on the flow of information in the digital space.