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Expect anti-net censorship echo in house

by Prasad Krishna last modified Apr 25, 2012 11:07 AM
For the anti-Internet censorship movement in the country, hope is now in sight. Their fight against the intermediary provisions (section 79) of the IT laws, according to which, an intermediary (website, domain owner) would have to take off content that a third party (or complainant) finds ‘objectionable,’ without any room for appeal, has now garnered the attention of the government itself. What is at stake is our fundamental rights, warns CPM Member of Parliament P Rajeeve, who was perhaps the first at the government level to realise that there was a gaping hole in the provision, and took up the matter in the Rajya Sabha.

This blog post by Arpan Daniel Varghese was published in IBN Live on April 25, 2012

“A discussion on the annulment of the IT Act 2011 itself is likely to figure in the budget session of the Parliament on April 24. I am trying to mobilise other MPs. We have decided to convene a meeting of organizations, representatives of political parties and MPs to discuss this issue in detail,” says MP Rajeeve.

Noted Twitteratti and former Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor too is concerned, particularly about the onus this places on Internet Service Providers.

“If a newspaper publishes something, you go after the newspaper, not the delivery boy. Yes, you can ask the delivery boy to stop delivering the newspaper, but that is such an extreme step that few democracies would contemplate. But what we are trying to do seems to go unacceptably far in this direction and needs further reconsideration,” Tharoor says, adding that he too is planning to raise the issue in the Lok Sabha.

Both Alok Dixit from ‘Save Your Voice’ and Sunil Abraham, the executive director of the Centre for Internet And Society (CIS), say they are speaking to MPs and others in the government and trying to initiate an motion in the Rajya Sabha against the intermediary provisions. And support has been pouring in from all quarters, be it cyber space or through the pan-India protests, including the recent one at the Marina Beach in Chennai that ‘Save Your Voice’ has been holding.

Alok, Sunil and scores of activists across the country are now pinning their hopes on the annulment motion introduced by MP Rajeeve, which is likely to be taken up during the second half of the Parliament session on Tuesday.
The main hassle, however, is ignorance. “People don’t even know about the laws. They are not aware of their rights. So, the kind of support we are getting is quite less,” says Alok.

The legal fraternity and the administration too face the same roadblock, agrees Kerala High Court advocate Jacob. “This is a new area and people are just learning the theoretical side of it. There are not many cases. Trained professionals are not there to train the legal fraternity itself,” he rues.

The fundamental question is, according to Sunil, “why should freedom of speech and expression be any different on the Internet?”
“Remember, this is the same Internet which brought out Kolaveri and structured the Anna movement. So, it affects you,” Alok signs off.

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