Sunday, March 20, 2011

Government to amend Indian IT Act to muzzle Bloggers

The draft proposal to amend the Indian IT Act so as to impose restrictions on intermediaries has provoked a huge outcry in the country, especially among its vocal bloggers.

While the proposed rules seek to control the ‘intermediaries' such as telecom networks, web-hosting sites and Internet service providers, search engines, online payment, cyber cafes and auction sites, it is the focus on blogs that has provoked an outburst.

‘Vague' reasons

The overemphasis on blogs, indicating the government's anxiety to control them; the ‘vagueness' of the reasons for which the government can block websites; and the utterly regressive move of introducing ‘intermediary due-diligence,' a favourite tool of repressive regimes against bloggers, is upsetting, says Shivam Vij, journalist, Kafila.

“It is interesting that while ‘Blogs' and ‘Blogger' are defined, the words aren't used in the rules per se. In other words, they had blogs in mind while making the rules,” he adds. Certain websites and blogs were blocked in 2006, while selective blocking was prevalent at times of wars and emergencies, say sources.

Besides curtailing the freedom of expression of individual bloggers, the draft holds them responsible for readers' comments and online discussions.

Experts also fear the restrictions now targeted at individual blogs will soon be applied to micro-blogging sites that facilitate online discussions, and the due diligence clause will result in higher power of censorship to the larger player.

For someone like K. Nageshwar, who maintains a blog and a website, indiacurrentaffairs.org that registers over 1 lakh visitors a month, moderating all comments is difficult. “Blogs often carry inflammatory content — some categorical, some critical and some full of hate. We understand as bloggers that we have the responsibility to ensure information is not used to spread the wrong message. Such regulations have to be exercised by bloggers themselves. Draconian measures would deepen discontent among the community.”

The blogging community sees these rules as an outcome of the larger censorship of areas of scrutiny that do not really fit into the Indian cyber space. The issue of Internet freedom is really about the tension between national security and personal liberty, and national security will always prevail under the pretext of economic growth, social stability or military threats, say the bloggers.

“In my mind, it's inevitable that we will soon end up with 200 different slices of the Internet, each one circumscribed by the whims of the censors in the country,” says Gaurva Mishra, a blogger and social media analyst.

“Instead of focusing on ‘bad repressive regimes,' the debate on Internet freedom should focus on “bad practices in open democracies,” including over-aggressive cyber crime, copyright, defamation laws to protect entrenched corporate interests, surveillance of Internet users in the name of national security, censorship of Internet content in the name of safeguarding intellectual property, isolating hate speech or preventing child pornography,” he adds.

Mr. Mishra says that in the aftermath of the Wikileaks controversy, governments are likely to pass regressive cyber-security laws to limit online freedom of expression in both ‘open democracies' and ‘authoritarian regimes.'

Krish Ashok, a Chennai-based blogger, says such censorship shows a certain lack of understanding because it takes quite a bit of technical skill to actually censor the Internet. As one will realise from the recent revolutions in West Asia, it mostly does not work.

“The Internet community will always end up being smarter. India does not control the rest of the web, and people can write blog posts by sending just an email. The lesser fortunate ones will end up facing the ham-handed fist of these new guidelines,” he says.

Scope for misuse

What is needed is more transparency in the system, and this clandestine, surreptitious way of blocking sites won't work, says Mr. Ashok, citing how websites blocked often show error pages. “Anybody can take a print out of a comment posted and complain against a blog to the authorities for it to be blocked. This draft leaves a lot of scope for it to be so misused,” Mr. Vij says.

Source:
http://www.hindu.com/2011/03/13/stories/2011031354750800.htm

30 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Well, your characterisation of this as antinational depends on which Indian nation you owe your allegience to; it definitely is if it is the obscenely corrupt politicans facilitated corporate India that is plundering the mineral wealth of this land and labour of its people.

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  3. Hey, Manmohan Singh & Sonia Gandhi are nationalist; Bhagat Singh, Binayak Sen are antinationals hahaha.

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  5. You can say it as many times as you like. Won't make it correct though.

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  7. Inform yourself a little bit more. There are many communists who do not consider present China and Korea communist and are very much concerned about the lack of freedom there.

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  9. "
    Haha what a JOKE, man you are too funny. the country where maoism born(chaina), and ruled under it's flag (South Korea)is not communist. Then which country is comunist? the kingdom of Castro brother (Cuba)? or the country that faced the torture of Stalin (Russia). which one is the true comunist country?"

    Before you ask more such questions, at least google with some associated keywords to make your posts look a little less like jokes. Apart from the facts that Russia transformed into a superpower when it faced Stalin's "torture" (what a torture it must have been, that made a super power out of a dirt-poor and collapsing country), I ask you, is there any hard and fast rule saying that the place where a new idea was born will always be subject to the same ?

    "
    Let me ask one thing why comunism fail at the end of the day? and the sweet dream of karl marx turn into nightmare? as I know that truth always win in the end. then is the maoism is a big lie?"

    What makes you think that this period which you live in is "the end" ? If you lived a hundred years ago would you conclude that British rule in India was our fate in "the end" ?

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  10. Who has seen the "end of the day" my dear friend? Unless, you can invent the science to foretell. In the meantime atleast try to get your facts right; South Korea was never communist. Also, instead of wild rants that communism is this and that, logic and reason are appreciated.

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  13. "ok, I was mixed up between north & south, but tell me honestly why all the communist govt are against the free speech? and against freedom? and why they always turn into dictator?"

    If you look at the initial decades after each revolution, there was a huge increase in freedom of the people in every case. Most of the alleged lack of freedom is propaganda by the same western rulers who were oppressing us Indians at that time.

    Later why they turned into dictatorships is an open question in Marxism. But allover they have been beneficial to the countries where revolutions happened. Also, even the French revolution (it was "democratic", to your delight) was lost to a subsequent monarchy. That did not in any way mean that it was worse than a monarchy.

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  15. Presently we do not have the right to choose our rulers, because elections are mostly rigged and all the parliamentary political parties support the corruption in the infrastructure. On the other hand, Maoist China had multi-party elections in which political parties that did not support the previous state structure participated. So we actually have to choose between the fake democracy that we have today and the real democracy that communists bring.

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  17. "it is because we are not investing in the justice system enough. and the justice system isn't mean the court only... how many people of india are aware of their Basic right? we need to build the infrastructure for the justice system first. we need to recruit more police officers and constables. we need to make more court and make a hassle free justice system for the common people, so they can get it easily and quickly. ;we need to restructure our investigative agencies so that they can caught corrupt people red handed.
    Now justice system & democracy are two different things. they are not the same... just because our justice system is week you can't say that there are no democracy. "

    This notion of democracy is totally new to me ! What do you mean by a democracy separate from justice ? An unjust democracy ? That is what we seem to have, because even you admit that our justice system is weak. This so called "democracy" that breeds injustice is unwanted and must go.

    "and in the end it takes all your freedom and all basic human right. and make you the slave of state."

    Where has this actually happened, other than in countries like India ? Which basic human right does an average Indian living on Rs. 20 a day enjoy? The right to have a false voter vote for him ?

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  19. "Yes, Justice & democracy are two different things. I strongly believe that there is no problem in our democratic status, but the justice system lack it’s strength. And why is that? It’s because we are not INVESTING enough in our justice system. At this moment there aren’t enough court that can give everyone justice, it takes year after year to get a verdict from court. So the people approach to the NETA(politicians/dada) to settle things, and this gives the politicians more power than the justice system. And the corruption starts from there.
    Tell me if my analogy is wrong.
    But if we invest more in the justice system and make a healthy infrastructure of justice system, then everyone will get easy quick and hassle free justice, and we don’t need to depend on the NETA(politicians/dada), and it will definitely stop the corruption.
    And if you see things carefully then you will notice that Injustice gives power to the corrupt political system. And it got a nothing to do with democracy or the communism or fascism or any other political system. If you have to stop corruption then you have to improve justice system."

    Why do you believe that there is no problem with our democratic status even though Indian elections have been proved to be rigged, and most of the people are not even aware of the rights they should get? A democracy only in paper is not a democracy.

    You admit that the Indian government has utterly failed so far to implement justice. Now tell me, how much longer should the people wait before these crimes of mass-murders and loots stop ? Will the tribal who is being kicked out of his homeland or the Muslim who is being murdered wait for you to convince everyone to invest more in the justice-system and just die of torture and starvation, or will he try to live and fight back, just what the Maoists teach ?

    "Now let’s see the difference between the single party govt system (Maoism/communist) & the multiparty govt system (democracy).
    In single party govt system whatever the govt/party says goes. There aren’t any opponents to oppose you. And it slowly makes a dictatorial govt, as example china … whatever the govt says you have to listen it. You can not oppose it. If the govt says they want to take this land and build a factory then there is no one to oppose it. There is no one who can protest or make a rally against the govt, even if it is peaceful protest.
    In multiparty govt system there are always opponent, and if you don’t like what govt says then you can go and protest against it. As example singur & nandigram. When the govt says that they want to took the land and build a factory then there was mamta to protest against it.
    So I wonder what if there were single party govt in india? And there were no mamata or any other opponent? Could the people of singur or nandigram do anything against the govt?
    So where is the problem with multiple party democratic system? Can you plz explain in details????"

    Your assumption itself is faulty. Communism is not in conflict with a multiparty-democracy.

    Since you gave the example of China, I have to mention that even in India, in cases like Nandigram, Lalgarh or POSCO, there was no hope until the people abandoned peaceful and democratic protests and took to more extreme means. The TMC's role was secondary during the main conflict in Nandigram. The fight was fought chiefly by the BUPC. Also, there is no government more dictatorial than the Indian government in spite of it having more than one political party. In recent years it has arrested many innocents. Even here we are slaves of the state when it comes to effective protests. The government can arrest and detain anyone it wants to by using the UAPA.

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  21. " Tell me, do you believe we have enough infrastructure to stop crimes in our society? do you believe that we have enough court that can jive verdict in few days? do you believe that we have enough police man that can give security on every street? do you believe that election commission have enough infrastructure that organize a rigg free election? and are we investing enough to build this infrastructure?"

    I see what you mean, and I agree with you, but since we common people are far from the decision-making process any way, why not go for a different system altogether instead of searching for a solution within this one while it murders thousands ?

    "Just show me a singur or nandigram like revolution in recent time in chaina or korea?"

    You are going round in circles. Firstly I don't defend the present day DPRK or China. Secondly, the central role in the Nandigram movement was played by the BUPC, an organization alleged to have substantial Maoist influence. Thirdly, the states of Korea and China are nowhere near to India in cruelty and repression that the people there will have the urge to immediately move for Nandigram-like movements. How many people in China were killed in recent years by the bullets of government forces? How many were killed in India that way ?

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  23. Real democracy is not just voting every 5 years & everybody knows how the voters are influenced/bought/rigged. Democracy Indian style has only been able to produce utterly corrupt politicians, business oligarch plunderers and corrupt and sycophantic journalists all very willing to serve the cause of new imperialists/colonialists. On the other side of the spectrum are crores of people living at subsistence and sub-subsistence level with hunger and malnutrition indices worse than sub-Saharan african countries. I just don't understand how someone can support this system of plunder in the cloak of democracy.

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  25. "So I was wondering did you analyzed why the communism fail in DPRK or China? Did the Mao se-tung and other revolutionist expect this? Why did the china changed so dramatically? I am waiting for your answer…."

    Are you familiar with some basic Marxism or the dynamics of Chinese class struggle so that you'll actually understand my answer ? If not, then discussing this topic is of no use. Moreover it is far from the topic that we are focussing on.

    "I didn’t expect this kind of respond from you about the common man; they way you are saying is that the common man are spineless in India. It’s so disrespecting"

    Where did I say that the common Indian is spineless ? We are far from the decision making process because we are being kept that way by the oppressive state.

    "Let me give you an example of a common Indian girl {Mamta Banerjee} who decided to make her own party and now she is the railway minister of the India, and at the door step of becoming the chief minister of west Bengal. 32 years ago she was a common man (woman ) of India. So if you want to become a decision maker then join politics or become and IPS or ICS and become a decision maker."

    The system moulding a common person to an opportunist and dishonest politician does not equal the common people playing a key role in the decision-making process. Mamata had been in the mass-murdering congress for quite a long time. She remained silent about the arrest of Binayak Sen at a point when even the CPM protested it. Today she calls the Maoists the "B team" of the CPM and tries to divert public wrath towards them. Such is her dishonesty.

    And here is a video for you :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ltz-HOwbjo

    Even though the Indian government arrests innocent doctors and human rights activists, rapes and murders tribals, I can manage to give you some numbers if you want, and we can compare them with those of China. Or will you still keep claiming that the Chinese government is too oppressive to let even a bit of the statistics out ?

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  27. "what are you talking about? I still didn't get it."

    Previously you asked questions to which the correct answers would be quite non-trivial. I just said that those are deep theoretical questions and rather irrelevant to the present discussion.


    "If you refuse to take participate in any thing then don't call yourself that you are being kept that way by the oppressive state."

    You mean the tribals and farmers who are evicted refuse to participate in the decision making process ? Is it really that or are their demands completely ignored ?

    "why thy ban the social media in china? why theren't any free media in china? don't you think they are doing this keep their people in dark? Just imagine if we don't had the free media in our country and if all news agencies stayed under control of the government then what would happened?"

    Media in our country is not free. Books and magazines are banned here. Even the publishers of magazines that are not banned are arbitrarily arrested and left to rot and die in jail. If media had been really free then there wouldn't have been an act like the UAPA.

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  29. "Yep they are relevant to the present discussion. So I want my answer from you that what is real democracy? Show me a county where it exists?"

    How is this even close to the topic ? If you lived in a monarchial period when elections were unheard of, would you not fight for the right to vote ?

    "Just show me few cases where their demands completely ignored. Only then I will answer you."

    Nandigram and Lalgarh, before the people took up arms.

    "ok, so you want to mix up the Books and magazines with journalism and avoid my question. Let me tell you if the govt ban any book or magazines. Then they could challenge that decision in the court. And we have that right. So plz point out the cases the author or the publisher challenge that decision in the court and lost their cases. But if you don't challenge the decision in the court then it still remain ban."

    Since when did books and magazines began to be treated as objects totally unassociated to journalism? And yes, after something is banned, you can challenge it in court. Then the case will go on for decades and will be concluded only at a point where it won't matter anymore. Having rights mean nothing if they are not useful in practice.

    " And about the journalism …. I am glad that unlike china it is free in this country."

    Which is the country that passed the UAPA ? Not China I think ?

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