As cases of COVID-19 reached a new world high, India asked Twitter to remove hundreds of tweets critical of the country’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, including those by local lawmakers.
Following the Indian government’s legal appeal, Twitter withheld several of the tweets, according to a company spokeswoman.
According to the Lumen database, a Harvard University project, the government issued an emergency order to censor the tweets.
21 tweets were listed in the government’s legal submission, which was made public on Lumen on April 23. Tweets from a lawmaker named Revnath Reddy, a West Bengal minister named Moloy Ghatak, and a filmmaker named Avinash Das were among them.
The Information Technology Act of 2000 was cited in the government’s submission.
In an emailed comment, a Twitter spokeswoman said, “When we receive a legitimate legal request, we review it under both the Twitter Rules and local law.”
“If the content is found to be in violation of Twitter’s laws, it will be deleted from the platform. We can suspend access to the content in India only if it is deemed to be illegal in a specific jurisdiction but not in violation of the Twitter Rules,” she said.
The spokeswoman reported that Twitter had contacted account holders directly to inform them of the withholding of their content and to inform them that it had received a court order pertaining to their tweets.
Overburdened Indian hospitals pleaded for oxygen supplies as coronavirus infections soared in what the Delhi high court described as a “tsunami,” setting a new world record for cases for the third day in a row.
As the capital’s underfunded health system buckles, India is in the grip of a raging second wave of the pandemic, with one COVID-19 death every just under four minutes in Delhi.
India became complacent in the winter, when new cases were operating at about 10,000 a day and seemed to be under surveillance, according to health experts. Authorities also relaxed limits, allowing large events such as festivals and political demonstrations for municipal elections to resume.