In this article, I talked about various aspects of Internet Censorship in India including its pros and cons for society and also some of the basic recommendations for the government to implement while planning about this step.
This is the act of Banning or Blocking some or all content that can be published, viewed, and accessed online. Sectors that can implement this ban can include governments, private sectors, and individuals with a common goal to control what people can read and post on the World Wide Web. Some countries impose direct censorship, others have stringent policies against unlawful posting online while there are countries that are somewhat lenient with videos going viral.
In the present time, changing measures of innocence and moral standards have led to a rapid paradigm shift in the status of the world. The Society at large has now grown into a global village. Your one statement, one opinion, or maybe one expression on social media shall echo to the whole world, no matter how far you are sitting in any corner of India. The upshot of the globalization era has filled every loophole that was hindering the comprehensive connectivity amongst the nations.
The Term censor was initially introduced in the ancient Roman Empire. According to the Etymological Dictionary, ‘Censere’ is a Latin word that means to appraise, value or Judge. Censorship was an official duty and censor was a title given to a public official in the Roman Government.
Censorship in India
The issue of censorship has worried citizens, free speech supporters, civil rights organizations, and libertarian organizational over the world. It is also widely debated and discussed in India, where governments over the years have tried to censor free speech and the free flow of information. The right to freedom of speech and expression, which is a fundamental right under part 3, Article 19(1)(a) of the constitution, has been upheld as a basic right by the supreme court of India in various judgments.
Under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, the right to freedom of Speech and Expression is a fundamental right. In the same article, the application of reasonable restrictions is also mentioned. The freedom to the medium of expression is still in the hands of the dominating regime. The Status of India’s overall internet freedom as Partly Free, has not been changed since 2009. Information Technology Act with its amendments in 2008 has turned out to be a totalitarian law. These stringent laws such as 66-A (repealed by Shreya Singhal v. UOI), section 69-B have directly attacked the provisions defined in Article 19 of the Indian Constitution.
The Vinay Rai Case
Amidst the din of censorship of the Internet, intermediaries like Facebook, Google, and other companies faced a sparkling jolt when Vinay Rai, editor of a Delhi-based Urdu newspaper Akbari, filed a case against them in December 2011 for permitting objectionable content material up on their sites. Rai has submitted examples of what he deems as offensive content towards a range of religions and religious figures that he located on the websites of these companies.
However, Rai selected now not to interact with the websites regarding this issue. He noted that the authorities are the closing authority to deal with multinationals in things like these. Indian Penal Code has strict provisions in opposition to the promotion of religious enmity in the use of an inclusive of Sec 153 (B), Section 298 amongst others.
Even as Google and Facebook have argued that they are now not legally responsible for the content material uploaded by the users, matters don’t look rosy, thanks to the cyber laws in India. The outcome of the case is nonetheless pending considering the case is nonetheless with the Delhi High Court.
Vijaya Shankar added:
Vinay Rai appears to have filed a case towards content material that can hurt non-secular sentiments of the people. There are some strong provisions in the law towards hurting religious sentiments. The sole concern I have is that the courtroom ought to make it clear that the judgment is for this particular case by myself and that the outcome of the case has to no longer be considered as a precedent. There is a big issue of public pastime in this issue. It has a hazard of being misinterpreted as a precedent which will affect our freedom of expression.
Conclusion: Censorship in India
With the increased number of means of expression, the restrictions on the free flow of speech have also increased. Censorship or chilling effect exists even in the absence of legal prosecution. This comes into the picture when people choose to self-censor their speech, i.e., they choose not to express their opinions due to the fear of being prosecuted or being a target of heckler’s veto. In several cases, when interest groups that claim to be offended by books, movies, or works of art pushed for censorship or harassed authors, the government has allowed them a heckler’s veto rather than protecting these under attack. Stringent legal censorship also with time promotes intolerance to a scale whether it is not only imposed by court decrees but physical violence.
- What is Internet Censorship? greengarageblog.org, September 4, 2015, Brandon Miller
- Issue of Censorship in India, LegalBites.com, Garima Saxena, May 14, 2020
- Internet Censorship in India, Lawctopus.com, September 23, 2019
- Meaning of censor, Wikipedia
- Meaning ofcensere, Etymological Dictionary
- Shreya Singhal V. Union of India, AIR 2015 SC 1523