Ravi Shankar Prasad denied access to Twitter account

Ravi Shankar Prasad denied access to his Twitter account for almost an hour

He was subsequently allowed to access the account

Union IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. Credit: PTI Photo

Amid ongoing tussle between Twitter and the Government over complying new social media rules, micro blogging platform on Friday temporarily blocked IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad's personal account for alleged violation of the US Copyright Act.

However the account was reinstated an hour later with a warning note that the account may be locked again or potentially suspended in case of any additional notices against the account.

According to lumen Data base, IT minister account access was blocked on the request of International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (“IFPI”) for violating AR Rehman song copy right Ma Tujhe Salaam. The Minister tweeted on December 15, 2017.

In an angry reaction to the social media platform's move, the Minister said the decision of the company was arbitrary and a gross violation of IT rules.

This was the first time Twitter denied access to the account of a Union Minister in India.

Reacting to the row, Twitter spokesperson said, "The Minister’s account access was temporarily restricted due to a DMCA notice only and the referenced tweet has been withheld. As per our copyright policy we respond to valid copyright complaints sent to us by a copyright owner or their authorized representatives."

Though the Twitter account of the minister was visible for public viewing, Twitter did not permit anyone authorized to access this account to log in or make any post.

When the minister and his team tried to log in to the Twitter account @rsprasad Twitter showed a message saying, “Your account has been locked because Twitter received a compliant Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Notice for content posted to your Twitter account. Under the DMCA copyright owners can notify Twitter claiming that a user has infringed their copyrighted works. Upon receipt of a valid notice, Twitter will remove the identified material. Twitter maintains a repeat copyright infringer policy under which repeat infringer accounts will be suspended. Accruing multiple DMCA strikes may lead to suspension of your account.”

Surprised by the block, the Minister posted on another social media platform Koo, "Friends! Something highly peculiar happened today. Twitter denied access to my account for almost an hour on the alleged ground that there was a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of the USA and subsequently they allowed me to access the account."

Confronting Twitter, Prasad said it was apparent that his statements calling out the high handedness and arbitrary actions of the microblogging platform, particularly sharing clips of interviews to TV channels and the powerful impact had "clearly ruffled its feathers".

"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,"the Minister said.

Insisting that Twitter has to follow new IT rules, the Minister said, “There shall be no compromise on that.".

Replying to the Minister's tweet, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who is also chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT, said he will seek explanation from Twitter on the issue as he had also faced a similar situation earlier for posting a video in his handle.

Twitter is at loggerheads with the Centre over the compliance of new social media rules. The government has slammed Twitter for deliberate defiance and failure to comply with the country''s new IT rules.   

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