India has ordered YouTube and Twitter to take down videos and tweets about a BBC documentary where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was criticized.
The directive was issued by the country’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The directive would affect multiple YouTube videos and more than 50 tweets linked to the videos of the first episode of the BBC documentary, Kanchan Gupta, an adviser to the ministry, said per TechCrunch.
The ministry relied on the IT Rules, 2021, which gives it the power to take down posts that it deems undermines the sovereignty and integrity of India, and has the “potential to adversely impact India’s friendly relations with foreign countries as also public order within the country,” Gupta said. TechCrunch reports that both YouTube and Twitter had complied with the directions.
In his words, Gupta referred to the BBC documentary as a “hateful propaganda.” Many of India’s ministries including MEA, MHA and MIB, examined BBC’s “malicious documentary” and considered it to “casting aspersions on the authority and credibility of Supreme Court of India, sowing divisions among various Indian communities, and making unsubstantiated allegations,” he wrote in a Twitter thread.
In its response, The BBC said: “The documentary was rigorously researched according to highest editorial standards. A wide range of voices, witnesses and experts were approached, and we have featured a range of opinions – this includes responses from people in the BJP [India’s ruling party]. We offered the Indian Government a right to reply to the matters raised in the series – it declined to respond,” a BBC spokesperson said according to TechCrunch.
In 2022, Twitter filed suit challenging the order asking it to take down content on its platform. The social media giant filed the petition with the high court in Karnataka state. Twitter is praying the court to stop the authorities from compelling it to obey the order.
Twitter’s suit was in reaction to a letter from the Indian government warning of “serious consequences” of non-compliance of such orders.
Apparently in reaction to Twitter’s lawsuit, federal minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar posted a tweet per the BBC insisting that all foreign Internet platforms had to comply with Indian laws. Chandrasekhar, however, added that Twitter has the right to go to court.