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Twitter India officials to face penal action if they fail to obey govt order

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Twitter India officials to face penal action if they fail to obey govt order
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New Delhi: The government has directed Twitter to comply with its order to remove contents/accounts related to farmer genocide hashtags, and warned that the microblogging platform may face "penal action" for non-compliance of its order, according to sources.

The legal experts said on Wednesday that the top Twitter management in India could face penal action that may include seven-year imprisonment and fine if the company does not comply with the Indian governments latest order to remove accounts and tweets which alleged "farmer genocide" in the country.

According to IANS, the notice issued by the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) said that the government can also ban the platform in India for allegedly motivating a campaign to abuse, inflame and create tension in the society on "unsubstantiated" grounds.

According to Virag Gupta, lawyer of former RSS ideologue K.N. Govindacharya, as per the provisions of Section 69A of the IT Act and various rules, any intermediary, including Twitter, is bound to comply with the directions issued by a competent authority.

"In case an intermediary fails to comply with the directions, then the government can initiate action for suspension or blocking of intermediary apps or websites. As per Section 69A (3), there is a provision of seven years' imprisonment and fine," IANS quoted IANS as saying.

The government's notice said that Twitter, as an intermediary under Section 2[1][w] of the act, is once again directed to block access by the public to the said Twitter handles and also the said hashtag with immediate effect.

"It needs to be mentioned that Section 69A(3) provides for specific penal consequences in case of non-compliance of the directions issued under Section 69A of the Act," the notice read.

Twitter has however declined to comment on the new MeitY notice.

Pavan Duggal, one of the nation's top cyber law experts, told IANS that under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, the government has been given the powers to block public access to any content through any computer resources.

"Non-compliance with the directions for blocking is a serious, non-bailable offence punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine," Duggal noted.

"In that direction, appropriate FIR can be registered against intermediaries and service providers and their top management can also be made liable for the said contravention under Section 85 of the Information Technology Act, 2000," informed Duggal, a seasoned Supreme Court lawyer.

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