Social Media

Blocked out, Prasad slams Twitter’s free speech badge

S Ronendra Singh New Delhi | Updated on June 25, 2021

Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister for Communications and IT Chhote Lal

Microblogging site says access denied on copyright notice

A post on social media platform Koo by the Minister for Communications and Information Technology (MeitY) and Law & Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad, that Twitter had on Friday denied access to his account for almost an hour, created buzz not only on various social media sites but also on Twitter.

Prasad expressed his anger against Twitter on Koo, and subsequently Tweeted too. “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 (DMCA) of the USA and subsequently they allowed me to access the account… Twitter subsequently allowed me access to my account,” Prasad said on Koo.

Prasad 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, with the threat that if you do not tow the line they draw, they will arbitrarily remove you from their platform. My comments calling out high handedness, arbitrary actions of Twitter have clearly ruffled feathers.”

A Twitter spokesperson said that “We can confirm that the Minister’s account access was temporarily restricted due to a DMCA notice only and the referenced Tweet has been withheld. Per our copyright policy, we respond to valid copyright complaints sent to us by a copyright owner or their authorised representatives.”

What is DMCA? It is US copyright law that implements two 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organisation. It criminalises production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures that control access to copyrighted works.

According to Twitter, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, on behalf of Sony Music, sent the takedown notice. The controversial tweet of Prasad contained a media file of AR Rahman’s Maa Tujhe Salaam (Sony Music) on December 15, 2017. “On #VijayDiwas, I salute all the martyrs & heroes who fought for the nation and let us to victory in 1971 war,” Prasad had posted.

Twitter said as per its ‘Twitter Transparency Report’, the company regularly shares the total number of DMCA takedown notices and counter-notices received for Twitter. For instance, between January and June 2020, it had received 1,53,325 takedown notices.

According to N S Nappinai, Advocate, Supreme Court and Founder-Cyber Saathi, Twitter’s action is not just aggressive or defiant but downright suicidal. “Social Media and micro blogging sites faced the ire of news media (especially print) for violations on their platforms through reproduction of Copyright protected content. If each of these instances are culled out and compared with their current action the vindictiveness of current action would be clearly manifest,” she said.

 

Published on June 25, 2021

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