Why Twitter temporarily blocked IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad's account
Triggering a fresh controversy, microblogging platform Twitter on Friday blocked Union Minister for Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad's account allegedly over complaints of violation of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). It locked his account temporarily, before restoring the access after about an hour. Prasad, however, lashed out at Twitter, saying its actions were in gross violation of the IT Rules, 2021.
Prasad's account was blocked briefly over complaints that he violated the DMCA by posting video clips of his debates on TV channels. "Twitter denied access to my account for almost an hour on the alleged ground...there was a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of the USA and subsequently they allowed me to access the account," he informed in a series of tweets.
Prasad also condemned the microblogging site's actions saying they violate the country's new IT Rules that came into force on May 25. "Twitter's actions were in gross violation of Rule 4(8) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 where they failed to provide me any prior notice before denying me access to my own account," he tweeted.
Prasad further asserted his recent statements calling out Twitter's "high handedness and arbitrary actions" have "clearly ruffled its feathers." Commenting on Twitter's non-compliance with the new IT Rules, he wrote, "It is now apparent as to why Twitter is refusing to comply...because if Twitter does comply, it would be unable to arbitrarily deny access to an individual's account which does not suit their agenda."
Friends! Something highly peculiar happened today. 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. pic.twitter.com/WspPmor9Su— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) June 25, 2021
The Union Minister also tweeted that no TV channel or anchor has ever complained against him for copyright infringements over sharing of clips of his interviews on social media. In another tweet, he said, "Twitter's actions indicate that they are not the harbinger of free speech that they claim to be but are only interested in running their own agenda."
To note, Twitter and the Centre have been at loggerheads over a range of issues lately, including the platform's refusal to take down posts supporting the farmers' protests, discrediting several BJP leaders' tweets, and the failure to comply with IT Rules, 2021. Twitter ultimately lost indemnity in India due to non-compliance with the rules—it no longer has legal protection from prosecution over user-generated content.
Soon after Prasad informed about Twitter's actions, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted his account was locked briefly, too, for copyright infringement over posting a video of Boney M's Rasputin. Though Tharoor didn't blame Twitter, he said, "It wasn't pleasant finding my account locked." As the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology's Chairman, Tharoor said his panel will seek Twitter's explanation over blocking their accounts.
And @Twitter locked me out again because to explain the problem, the first tweet in this thread included the offending copyrighted video. Locking is a foolish response to a DCMA notice; disabling the video (which they've now done) should be enough. @Twitter has a lot to learn.— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) June 25, 2021