The Indian government has sent legal notices to four Twitter account holders for allegedly posting inflammatory messages and hate content. These account holders have been asked to appear before a committee on September 10 at the office of the Computer Emergency Response Team. The government is also mulling lodging a case against people found guilty of provoking people through 'anti-social' messages on social networking websites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
“Notices have been sent to at least four people who have Twitter accounts. These people were sent notices as we are sure of their identities. They have been asked to explain their case before the committee,” LiveMint quotes a high-ranking official.
“For the rest, we have written to Google and Facebook asking for details of accounts that hosted such anti-social information, and were blocked... Once we receive information from Google and Facebook, we will send notices to the rest of the people,” the official adds.
Google or Facebook haven't yet confirmed they will comply to the new policy. It's notable websites such as Google supports court orders and applications of law instead of the informal government requests, as its transparency report says,
There are many reasons we may not have complied [with government requests]. Some requests may not specific enough for us to know what the government wanted us to remove (for example, no URL is listed in the request), and others involve allegations of defamation through informal letters from government agencies rather than a court orders. We generally rely on courts to decide if a statement is defamatory according to local law.
It may be recalled that the government had blocked more than 300 pages and URLs carrying hate content after rumours and panic led to a mass exodus of the North East Indians from different parts of the country. The social networking websites had come under scanner for becoming new source of rumours.
While the Internet companies such as Google and Facebook extended cooperation in removing such content, the government met with some difficulties in blocking some Twitter accounts. Apart from the social media, the government had imposed restrictions on SMSes.
It's not the first time the government has attempted to clean up the social networking websites. Last year, the government asked the Internet companies to bring in content monitoring mechanism. The companies have already gone to courts for allegedly hosting objectionable content. Google and other Internet companies have opposed the efforts to control the web.