Twitter briefly restricts India’s tech minister’s account over copyright complaint

The squabble between Twitter and India’s right-wing government further escalated on Friday after the nation’s technology minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, claimed he was denied access to his account for almost an hour.

“Friends! Something highly peculiar happened today,” the minister said in one of the seven tweets he posted about the incident. “Twitter denied access to my account for almost an hour on the alleged ground that there was a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of the USA and subsequently they allowed me to access the account.”

Twitter confirmed to CNN that it had withheld one of Mr Prasad’s tweet and restricted his account.

“Per our copyright policy, we respond to valid copyright complaints sent to us by a copyright owner or their authorized representatives,” the social media giant said.

According to Twitter’s website, the company may respond to alleged copyright infringement by locking accounts if multiple complaints are received.

The stress between big tech companies and Indian government are already running high over strict new rules which tech companies fear will erode privacy, usher in mass surveillance and harm business. The Indian government on the other hand claims these rules will help maintain national security.

India’s new IT rules demand companies create special roles in India to keep them in compliance with local law, and for firms to stay in contact with law enforcement 24/7.

They also require companies to trace the “first originator” of messages if asked by authorities, a requirement over which WhatsApp has sued the Indian government.

Twitter has said it has concerns about “core elements of the new IT Rules,” and the “potential threat to freedom of speech” in the country.