Twitter foreign entity, can’t seek protection under Article 19: Centre – Times of India

BENGALURU: US-based microblogging platform Twitter Inc cannot seek protection under Article 19 of the Constitution that guarantees freedom of speech and expression to Indian citizens and entities, not to foreigners, the central government said Thursday in the Karnataka high court.
Twitter had approached the court, challenging a series of blocking orders issued by the Centre from February 2, 2021 to February 28, 2022. It claimed the orders are “arbitrary” as they fail to provide prior notice to the originator of the content.
For the government, additional solicitor general (South) R Sankaranarayanan submitted before the HC: “They are not entitled to protection under Article 19, as it is a foreign entity. Under Article 14, there is nothing arbitrary and section 69 (A) has been properly followed…. Therefore, they are not entitled to any relief.” The hearing was adjourned till April 10.
Twitter has argued that the Centre’s directive to take down an account for a particular tweet goes against Section 69A of the information technology law and a violation of the right to equality enshrined in Article 14.
Sankaranarayanan said whenever Twitter was asked to identify the originator, the company had turned to its confidentiality rule. He said a dangerous situation can arise and lead to violence if someone opens a sham account of the Pakistan government and tweets something like “Indian-occupied Kashmir”, or if someone says LTTE leader Prabhakaran is alive and raring to go.
Sankaranarayanan said the “doctrine of proportionality” (not resorting to action that is more drastic than necessary to achieve certain results) has changed and cannot be invoked as a straitjacket formula. He said even the Supreme Court felt in cases it had adjudicated that the originator should be identified.

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