House panel seeks Twitter’s response on locking Ravi Shankar Prasad, Shashi Tharoor’s accounts

A parliamentary panel on Tuesday asked Twitter to explain with 48 hours why it had blocked access of Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor to their accounts, sources said.

The missive from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Technology, headed by Tharoor, came amid a continuous tussle between the microblogging platform and the central government over various issues, including new IT rules.

The panel was instructed by Tharoor to seek reply from Twitter on the blocking of access to accounts of Prasad and others on its platform, the sources said.

Last week, Twitter had blocked Union Information and Technology Minister Prasad from accessing his account which ratcheted up tensions with the government as it came under renewed attack for not following local laws.

Twitter denied Prasad access to his account ‘@rsprasad’ for almost an hour on the grounds that he violated the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, but the minister said the microblogging platform violated new IT rules that require intermediary or a host of user content to give prior notice before locking access.

Ravi Shankar Prasad.

The IT minister called out Twitter over the brazen arbitrariness and running its “own agenda”.

Soon after Prasad flagged the issue, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted that he too had faced something similar.

“Raviji, the same thing just happened to me. Clearly DMCA is getting hyperactive. This tweet has been deleted by @Twitter because its video includes the copyrighted BoneyM song ‘Rasputin’,” Tharoor tweeted.

Tharoor further said: "As Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, I can state that we will be seeking an explanation from @TwitterIndia for the locking of @rsprasad's & my accounts & the rules & procedures they follow while operating in India".

Prasad lashed out at Twitter, and in a series of posts on rival social media platform Koo said it was apparent that his statements calling out the “high handedness and arbitrary actions” of Twitter, had ruffled feathers.

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