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IT act sec 69A

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    16th Jul, 2022

Context

Microblogging platform Twitter moved the Karnataka High Court seeking to set aside multiple blocking orders of the Central government as well as to alter their directions to identify specific violative content than imposing a blanket ban on individual accounts.

About

What led to this?

  • In June, MeitY served Twitter notices which alleged that the platform was being non-compliant with the Information Technology Rules 2021.
  • It warned that non-compliance to the rules would mean initiating criminal proceedings against Twitter’s chief compliance officer, and losing safe harbour under Section 79(1) of the IT Act.
  • Section 79 (1) of the IT Act gives immunity to intermediaries from content posted by third parties.

Why was MeitY not happy with Twitter? 

  • MeitY’s contention with Twitter was that the platform was not complying with its blocking orders in its entirety.
  • The ministry was also miffed with the ministry’s failure to act on such takedown notices, served under Sec 69A of the IT Act.

What is Sec 69A of the IT Act? 

Under Sec 69A of the IT Act, Central government, represented here by MeitY, or any other specially-authorised officer, can issue blocking orders to platforms like Twitter under specific ground such as

  • Interest of sovereignty and integrity of India
  • Defence of India
  • Security of the state
  • Friendly relations with foreign states
  • Public order
  • Preventing incitement to “commission of cognisable offence relating to the above”.

So why did Twitter not comply with MeitY’s requests?

  • While Twitter complied with several notices of MeitY but it did not comply with a few citing that the orders by the ministry were problematic.
  • However, it is not yet to what degree they are compliant because in the Karnataka High Court, Twitter is seeking judicial review of a few of the blocking orders of the government and ultimately for the court to set them aside.

Shreya Singhal Judgement’s Order

  • Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 is struck down in its entirety being violative of Article 19(1)(a) and not saved under Article 19(2).
  • Section 69A and the Information Technology (Procedure & Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 are constitutionally valid.
  • Section 118(d) of the Kerala Police Act is struck down being violative of Article 19(1)(a) and not saved by Article 19(2).
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