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Centre asks Twitter to take down Manipur video under Section 69A

Social media platforms have been asked to take down the video as it could further disrupt the law and order situation in the state

Manipur Violence

Social media companies have been asked to take down the video as it could disrupt law and order

BS Web Team New Delhi

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The Centre has asked Twitter and other social media platforms to take down the video of two Manipuri women being paraded naked by a mob.

In response to the government's demand, some tweets that included the video have been withheld in India.

A senior government official said that social media companies had been asked to take down the video as it could further disrupt the law and order situation in the state.

The Centre has powers to issue content takedown orders to social media companies under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

What is Section 69A of the IT Act?

Section 69 of the IT Act allows the government to issue content-blocking orders to online intermediaries such as search engines, internet service providers (ISPs), web hosting services, digital marketplaces, etc.

Under this Section, the content being blocked is deemed to be a threat to India's national security, sovereignty, and public order.

Under this Section, if the Centre or state government are satisfied that blocking the content is "necessary" and "expedient" on the grounds of "sovereignty or integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence relating to above or for investigation of any offence," it may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, direct any agency "to intercept, monitor or decrypt or cause to be intercepted or monitored or decrypted any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource".

Any request made by the government is sent to a review committee, which then issues these directions. Blocking orders issued under Section 69 A of the IT Act are confidential in nature.

In a landmark 2015 ruling, the Supreme Court in 'Shreya Singhal vs Union of India' struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act of 2000, which entailed punishment for sending offensive messages through communication services.

The plea had also challenged Section 69A of the Information Technology Rules 2009, but the SC held this to be "constitutionally valid".

In July last year, Section 69A was under scrutiny when social media giant Twitter approached the Karnataka High Court against the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

Twitter challenged the ministry's content-blocking orders issued under Section 69A after the IT Ministry wrote to the social media giant to comply with its orders or lose safe harbour protection.

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First Published: Jul 21 2023 | 2:14 PM IST

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