IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s Feud With Twitter

On Friday, Twitter India temporarily denied access to Minister of Information and Technology (IT) Ravi Shankar Prasad’s Twitter account for over an hour. This decision by Twitter India was taken after copyright infringement complaints were registered against Prasad’s account.

The development comes in light of the recent clash between the Indian Government and Twitter over compliance with the new IT rules for Digital Media enterprises.

Why Was Ravi Shankar Prasad’s Account Disabled?

The International Foundation for Phonographic Industry (IFPI) registered a complaint on behalf of Sony Media Entertainment against Ravi Shankar Prasad for allegedly violating the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

In the official complaint as on Lumen Database, the alleged violation ensued due to a video tweeted by the Minister that featured A.R. Rahman’s famous song ‘Maa Tujhe Salam’, officially property of Sony Media Entertainment.

The DMCA notice claimed that the Minister’s tweet featured the song without permission from the Music Giant. As per the Lumen Database, the report was sent by IFPI on May 24th and received by Twitter on June 25th.

A spokesperson from Twitter confirmed the incident and said that the tweet had also been withheld, following Twitter’s official copyright policy.

Response By The Minister

After the access to his Twitter account was restored, Prasad took to Twitter to share the news of his denied access. He called the incident “highly peculiar”.

He also claimed that the decision to disable his account temporarily was a ‘gross violation’ of Rule 4(8) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, as Twitter did not give advance notice to the Minister before denying him access to his account.

He further accused the media giant’s decision due to the clash between Twitter and the Indian Government. The BJP government at the centre and the Media giant have remained in a long-standing brawl over a host of issues, including Twitter’s unwillingness to take down tweets about Farmer Protests and its continual flagging of BJP leaders. The recent introduction of IT Rules has only resulted in strained hostilities on both ends.

Ravi Shankar Prasad also 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”, hinting at Twitter’s non-compliance with the IT Rules.

Shashi Tharoor’s Similar Predicament

Shashi Tharoor, the chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology and Member of Parliament (MP), took to Twitter to assure Prasad that Twitter would be asked to respond as to why Prasad’s account was locked out while calling DMCA ‘hyperactive’.

He also attached an explainer about why Prasad was locked out, wherein he attached the offending copyrighted video. However, Twitter locked him out for tweeting the said video.

In response to this, he called the entire practice of locking out ‘a foolish response’ to a DMCA complaint and therefore suggested that disabling the video should’ve been enough.

He further clarified that he did not blame Twitter for the action or accused Twitter of having malign intentions. Tharoor explained that Twitter had no choice but to honour the DMCA takedown notice and claimed that the request was stupid and pointless.

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