Narendra Modi government is not pro Human Rights and this is clear with its abusive and coercive behaviour from time to time. From opposition to striking down of Section 66 A of Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act 2000) to unconstitutional forcing of Orwellian Aadhaar, Modi government has done everything to compromise Rule of Law, Human Rights, Fundamental Rights and Indian Constitution.
However, real bane of Modi government is blatant Internet shutdowns, giving excessive and unconstitutional e-surveillance powers to intelligence and law enforcement agencies of India, forcing surveillance and censorship upon search engines like Google and social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, etc.
These surveillance and censorship activities of Indian government would further increase with the proposed Internet Intermediary Rules 2018. But Twitter is already doing illegal censorship and surveillance at the unofficial or official requests of Indian government.
For instance, our Twitter handles named @DisasterReliefs (Unsuspended Now) and @OfficialECI have already been suspended by Twitter. Similarly, our handles named @DigitalIndiaLaw and @_CEDILRI have also been restricted (Restrictions Removed Now) by Twitter. We at Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) have already asked Twitter to provide us with the details and information on the basis of which Twitter has taken these illegal decisions.
So far we have not received any response from Twitter but we would pursue the case till logical conclusion. We are also aware that Supreme Court of India has deliberately removed victim’s right to approach an Internet Intermediary. According to Praveen Dalal, Supreme Court’s Judgment on Section 66A is a big blow for Cyber Law Due Diligence in India and reading down of Section 79(3) (b) and Rule 3(4) by Supreme Court in the present manner is “Counter Productive” in long run. He had also suggested that Modi Government must urgently bring suitable Amendments in the IT Act 2000 to tackle growing Cyber Threats and Cyber Crimes in India.
We have already devised a techno legal strategy to deal with companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc if they fail to respect Human Rights in Cyberspace. Further, we have also launched an online platform that can be used by national and international stakeholders if companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc are violating their rights in any jurisdiction of the world.
(1) The Gag Order: We asked Twitter to give reason for suspension of our @OfficialECI account and Twitter gave a very vague reason of impersonation. We have been asking Twitter about how Twitter reached that conclusion, even before the account was attacked by it earlier. In particular, we are asking Twitter ti inform us about any complaint or other material on the basis of which it has formed the arbitrary and unilateral opinion to suspend our account.
But Twitter is not disclosing any information at all despite many reminders. Twitter is behaving very strangely as if it is under a “Gag Order” from Indian government or any Indian authority/court.
Is Twitter Under A Gag Order By Indian Govt Or Indian Court Asking It To Suspend @OfficialECI Account Without Any Reason Or Justification Asks @Praveen_Dalal?
(2) No Reason Given: Despite asking specifically for reasons and grounds for suspending our @OfficialECI account many times, Twitter has not given the same. An account can be suspended by Twitter either on its own or on the complaint of third party. We have asked twitter to share material and data on the basis of which it has formed its opinion and decision to suspend our account. So far Twitter has not mentioned about any complaint that may allow it to form an opinion.
Can Twitter Unilaterally Suspend An Account Without Any Reason Or Complaint? So Far Twitter Has Neither Shared Any Valid And Legally Sustainable Reason Nor Details Of Any Complaint Informs @Praveen_Dalal.
(3) Twitter’s Response On 07-01-2019: This is the response of Twitter that we received on 07-01-2019 regarding our appeal against the suspension of our @OfficialECI account:
It has come to our attention that your Twitter account is in violation of the Twitter Rules, specifically the policy on Impersonation: https://support.twitter.com/articles/18366-impersonation-policy
Impersonation is pretending to be another entity in order to deceive, and is strictly prohibited. This account has been suspended and will not be restored.
We analysed the link provided by Twitter and found the following information:
An account will not be removed if:
(1) The user shares your name but has no other commonalities, or
(2) The profile clearly states it is not affiliated with or connected to any similarly-named individuals.
Accounts with similar usernames or that are similar in appearance (e.g. the same avatar image) are not automatically in violation of the impersonation policy. In order to be impersonation, the account must also portray another person in a misleading or deceptive manner.
This is what @OfficialECI is openly declaring to world at large:
This is what @OfficialECI has tweeted and is now the pinned tweet:
This is the logo we are using:
So the @OfficialECI has following unique features:
(1) We are not sharing the name of any person or organisation, and
(2) The profile clearly states it is not affiliated with or connected to Election Commission of India (ECI) in any manner whatsoever, and
(3) Our account is neither similar to any other username nor it has a similar appearance of any other logo or avatar image. We are also not using any government or organisation related image or logo, and
(4) We are not portraying any person or organisation in a misleading or deceptive manner, and
(5) We asked Election Commission of India (ECI) to manage the account and were willing to transfer the same. ECI did not show any interest and now we would manage the account.
Now it is for Twitter to explain the following regarding @OfficialECI:
(1) Which user or organisation @OfficialECI is impersonating, and
(2) How @OfficialECI is impersonating an “Imaginary Organisation/Fictional User” that has not filed any complaint.
We Are Managing The @OfficialECI Account With Utmost Good Faith And Absolute Fairness But @Twitter Is Acting In A Malafide Manner And Has No Justification At All For Suspending OfficialECI Account Says @Praveen_Dalal.
(4) Update On 20-01-2019: Twitter continues with its “Impersonation” excuse to justify the suspension of @OfficialECI handle. Despite so many requests and support tickets, Twitter is not giving any detail about either the account/individual/organisation claimed to be impersonated or details about any official complaint from such account/individual/organisation. This is serious violation of not only Twitter’s own policies but also the laws of India and other jurisdictions.
When data, info and details are given to Twitter to open an account they are given subject to the condition that the account would comply with Twitter’s terms and in case the account is complying with its terms, it shall be allowed to be operated uninterrupted and without any manipulation on the part of Twitter.
It is also implied that if Twitter suspends any account, the account holder is entitled to demand information and details about such suspension. Merely claiming that an account has been suspended for xyz reason is not sufficient if on the face of it such suspension is mala fide and based on extraneous considerations. So far Twitter has not provided details about any complaint on the basis of which @OfficialECI has been suspended.
There is no justification for Twitter at all to suspend @OfficialECI account as has been proved by us in update (3) above.