Twitter announced Tuesday that it has filed a lawsuit against the Indian government, the latest salvo in its ongoing fight against the country’s hate speech laws. The lawsuit comes after Twitter was ordered to remove a series of accounts and posts that violated India’s obscenity and defamation laws. as first reported by New York Times. Twitter has already removed the posts, but is seeking legal protection against similar orders in the future.
The battle began last May when India issued new IT rules for online content, followed soon by police raid on Twitter offices in India. Next July, Indian regulators threatens to sue Twitter for any future violations by its users.
In general, Twitter has long maintained that it abides by local laws on speech, but India’s laws on obscenity and seditious speech are unusually aggressive. In the past, the country has used speech laws to stifle environmental concerns or broader discussion of internal political struggles. Prominent author Arundhati Roy, who was charged with sedition over statements about the Kashmir conflict, described the system as both chaotic and repressive in a 2016 report on the matter. “The worst thing is that any crazy coot can go and file a complaint against you,” Roy said at the time. “This is a serious level of harassment.
Twitter’s legal battle is compounded by continued confusion over Elon Musk’s attempt to buy the company and take it private. In June, Musk promised to emphasize the values of freedom of speech nor the Twitter owner, but also said it would obey local laws and hinted at layoffs this would make it difficult to effectively defend the company’s position in India. Although he signed an agreement to acquire the company, Musk himself continues to cast doubt about whether the acquisition will go through, raising further doubts about the company’s future.