India Quietly Curbs Freedom of Expression on the Internet

India Quietly Curbs Freedom of Expression on the Internet

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The Indian government has sought to control the free flow of information on the internet, especially on the social network websites. A new set of rules are drafted and implemented, and it mandates regulation of user generated content such as comments, videos, blurbs among others. Some social network websites that are affected include Google, Microsoft, Rediff, Indiatimes, Yahoo and Facebook.

The new rule state that the websites shall inform users not to publish any posts that are blasphemous, incite hatred, are ethnically objectionable, infringe patents, threaten India’s unity or public order.

All websites must identify a grievance officer and publish his contact details on the website. He will be the point of contact for complainants, and the website is expected to take out the banned content within 36 hours from receiving the complaint.

Why is the government keen on censoring information?

I believe politics play a major role here. The government does not want free expression, as it could lead to open debate on unpopular policies and hence the unwanted negative publicity. It does not want to risk getting defamed through backdoor channels such as the internet.

What does it mean to websites such as Facebook?

The cost of censorship will have to be paid by all social networks, they need to start budgeting this overhead for controlling the flow of information onto their websites.

What about online users?

These people are most affected by this policy. Not only are their right of expression withheld, but are denied to understand the pulse of others.

Web publishers like me?

I wouldn’t be surprised if I hear back from some goon to take down this article, as it is raking new thoughts into people’s minds. Blogs are meant to be a platform where writers can write what they want and as they feel it. The quality is judged by the viewership, and there is no necessity for somebody peeking over the shoulder and passing judgments.

India is going back to the stone age, and nothing seems to be stopping the ill advised government. I am actually angry at the lukewarm response that respondents have given to reading this news across the web. There are no frustrated comments, hate blogposts or petitions being asked to sign to abolish this rule. Maybe these forms did exist during the first few hours, and were asked to take down. Why don’t we start something from here?

 

About the author

Abhinav Kaiser is an author and a management consultant. He has authored Become ITIL Foundation Certified in 7 Days and Workshop in a Box: Communication for IT Professionals. He works as a consulting manager for a top consulting firm. He advises businesses, organizations and enterprises in the areas of DevOps, IT service management and agile project management frameworks. Social Media : Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter | Google Plus

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