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Twitter takes ‘partial’ action on Indian govt’s requests to block tweets on Deep Sidhu, Khalistan

Tweets that allege the actor-activist was ‘killed by the government’ have been blocked in India under the IT Act, 2000. However, some pro-Khalistan content is still visible.

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New Delhi: Twitter has taken ‘partial’ action on two requests received from the Narendra Modi government to block a bunch of tweets some of which alleged that actor-activist Deep Sidhu was “killed by the government”, and others that were in support of Khalistan according to the Lumen database.

The social media platform has blocked 15 tweets in India, which means these will be visible in other parts of the world. However, some pro-Khalistan content, which has been marked as “actioned” on the Lumen database can still be viewed in India.

The Lumen database is a repository of requests to remove content from online platforms. Platforms like Google, Twitter, YouTube and Wikipedia voluntarily share content blocking requests received from sources like governments around the world with the platform so that researchers and journalists can view these requests.

Twitter received both content take down requests — one regarding 15 tweets, most of which were on Deep Sidhu and a few on Khalistan, the second regarding content (8 tweets and a Twitter handle) on Khalistan — from the Indian government on 2 March. It reported the request to block the pro-Khalistan content to the Lumen database on 3 March, and the one about 15 tweets, on 4 March.

According to information on the Lumen database, the government made the requests on grounds that the tweets were not in compliance with India’s Information Technology Act, 2000. 

Deep Sidhu who is referred to in several of the blocked tweets — had died last month in a road accident on Kundli-Manesar-Palwal highway near Kharkhoda in Haryana’s Sonipat, according to police. He was an accused in the Red Fort violence during a farmers’ rally on Republic Day last year. 

ThePrint has sought a comment from Twitter via email on why content shown as “actioned” on the Lumen database is still visible in India, and what it means by “partial action”, but is yet to receive a response. This report will be updated if and when a response is received.

On its website, Twitter says: “Many countries, including the United States, have laws that may apply to Tweets and/or Twitter account content…if we receive a valid and properly scoped request from an authorised entity, it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time. Such withholdings will be limited to the specific jurisdiction that has issued the valid legal demand or where the content has been found to violate local law(s).”

The platform further explains that when it withholds content in this way, it will “publish requests to withhold content on Lumen”.

Also Read: Modi govt ordered blocking of 9,849 social media accounts in 2020, 2,000% more than 2014

9 pieces of ‘actioned’ content still visible

In response to the Indian government’s request about 9 pieces of content on Khalistan, the Lumen database has a document listing 8 tweets and one Twitter handle under the head ‘List of content actioned in jurisdiction’. However, the content is still visible in India.

For example, the account @OsamajitK, which had been requested to be taken down in India, is still visible.

The above user, who identifies himself as part of ‘Khalistan’, has posted tweets such as, “Russia is ally of Endia. Ukraine are us” and, “When will the Whites celebrate the heroes of Khalistan?”

A tweet from @zeetareen included in the government take down request is still visible. With the hashtags “#KhalistanReferendum #UK #SikhsForJustice”, it retweets a tweet from Pakistan’s state-owned ‘Radio Pakistan’ that posted a video saying: “Thousands of Sikhs gather at the Queen’s Elizabeth Hall to vote for the non binding Khalistan Referendum.”

Also Read: Twitter blocks 50 tweets on UP Muslim man assault amid tussle with Modi govt over new IT rules


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