UN Asks Twitter To Explain Suspension of Kashmir Accounts
December 26, 2018
The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression has asked the Twitter to explain the suspension of accounts posting Kashmir-related content amid reports that the micro-blogging platform gave in to multiple censorship requests from the government.
David Kaye, the UN rapporteur, posted a letter on Twitter today, addressed to Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, in connection with reports of suspension of multiple tweets related to Kashmir or users “for posting or sharing Kashmir-related content” since 2017 when the Valley was choked in the aftermath of Burhan Wani’s killing.
Reminding the Twitter founder of his “responsibility to respect the human rights of its users, the UN rapporteur has asked him to reveal court orders on tweet removal or suspension of accounts related to Kashmir since July 2017, the number of requests by government agencies for such actions along with the compliance rate.
According to Twitter’s Removal Requests report, India made 144 removal requests, of which 800 accounts were specified from July 2017 to December 2017 and 17 accounts and 32 tweets were withheld.
Earlier, from January 2017 to June 2017, India made 104 removal requests, but Twitter did not withhold any accounts or tweets during that period, the letter states.
The UN rapporteur has asked Twitter to explain the “legal, policy or other analysis” that led the social media platform to withhold tweets or accounts related to Kashmir in response to government requests.
“How has this analysis changed from its (Twitter’s) decision to not withhold any tweets or accounts pursuant to government removal requests before July 2017?” the UN rapporteur states.
Before July 2017, Twitter is not known to have complied with any government request to ban content or accounts that have posted content related to Kashmir, the UN rapporteur said.
The UN rapporteur has accused New Delhi of expanding the “scope of its censorship tools and efforts, at the expense of individual rights to freedom of expression, access to information, freedom of association and other fundamental human rights.”
The UN rapporteur has also asked Twitter to explain the measures taken to “prevent or mitigate content or account removal requests that are inconsistent with international human rights standards, particularly for requests pertaining to Kashmir-related content?”
Although there is no reliable, independent data on the number of Twitter users banned in India, users from Kashmir have often accused the micro-blogging site, Facebook and other social media platforms of censorship.
In past, Twitter has suspended accounts or withheld tweets found to be offensive, posing threat or provoking violence, but it is for the first time that the social media giant has come under the radar for action against Kashmir-related users.
The missive comes amid simmering tensions in Kashmir Valley where violence is at all-time high with record number of civilians killed during counterinsurgency operations, including the last week’s bloodbath in Pulwama which left seven civilians dead.
First published in The Citizen.
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