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If You Invoke US Copyright Act, then be Aware of Indian Laws Too: Prasad on Twitter Row

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad (PTI/File)

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad (PTI/File)

Twitter last week blocked the IT minister's account for an hour on a complaint made four years ago under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of the US.

Calling for accountability of big social media companies, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday said Twitter invoked a US copyright act to block his account but it should also be cognisant of the law in India where it is operating and earning money. Speaking at the India Global Forum, the minister said Twitter last week blocked his account for an hour on a complaint made four years ago under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of the US.

“If you are going to invoke the… digital copyright act of America then you have to also be cognisant of the copyright rules of India. That is the point. “You cannot say my whole stand will be regulated by an ex-parte assessment of the US law. For a happy blending of the role of big tech and democracy, a solution has to be found," Prasad said.

He said social media companies are free to do business in India but they have to be accountable to the Indian Constitution and laws. Micro-blogging platform Twitter has been at loggerheads with the government over various issues, including during the farmers’ protest in January and later when it tagged political posts of several leaders of the ruling party BJP as “manipulated media", drawing a sharp rebuke from the Centre.

Twitter has still not complied with the new IT rules for social media companies. The rules mandate social media companies to establish a grievance redressal mechanism for resolving complaints from the users or victims. All significant social media companies, with over 50 lakh user base, will have to appoint a chief compliance officer, a nodal contact person and a grievance officer.

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All of them have to be resident in India. Prasad further said the issue of social media in India is around abuse of the rights of victims on those platforms and the companies’ accountability.

“If democracy has to survive misinformation, fake news, colluded material…all these are challenges. I am not in favour of censoring but democracies have to find a common ground as far as these issues are concerned so that these big tech companies do their business, earn good money, good profit but become accountable. This can only happen if you follow law of the land," Prasad said.

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