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Feb 27, 2015 at 10:39

As SC Rules On Sec 66A Of IT Act Which Curbs Our Voice Online, We Ask For The Internet To Be Free

by K. V. L. Akshay

“If the medicine is bitter, then we can have sugar after it instead of throwing the medicine [away]. People have to take the medicine as it is for their benefit,” Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued.

He argues in favour of Section 66A of the IT Act, in front of the Supreme Court during a trial which will decide the bounds of free speech in our country.

Source: Youthkiawaaz

In November 2012, two young girls were arrested by the Thane police, late at night, following a Facebook post where one of the girls criticised the Mumbai bandh for the funeral of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray.

The arrest led to widespread outrage and debate over the fundamental right of freedom of expression and its employability, especially in the context of social media.

And at the centre of the debate is Section 66 A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, which defines punishment for 'offensive' messages sent through a computer or any communication device such as a laptop or a tablet.

Although, what constitutes an 'offence' has been left open-ended, unclear, free for interpretation and distortion as and when required.

Source: Wall Street Journal

While the debate rages on within the country, the acts of censorship seem to have extended beyond domestic borders.

An Indian teacher, living in Doha, was reportedly asked to resign from her job at MES Indian School after she posted a derogatory caricature of PM Narendra Modi on the social networking site, Facebook.

She neither created the image nor claimed ownership of it, she merely shared a picture circulating on the internet.  She lost her job over that.

Source: thenextweb.com

The story of internet censorship is almost as old as the idea of internet itself. As with any free enterprise, the responsibility needs to be borne by the web user.

Enforcing the same through vaguely worded sections of obsolete laws, however, scars the very notion of liberty and democratic free speech.

Source: Globalvoicesonline.org

The government argues that Section 66 A is a necessary deterrent, lest the free space of the internet be employed to inflame sectarian emotions and disturb public order.

But it has been heavily employed for personal vendettas and political reasons, causing even fair criticism to fall silent.

As the proverbial ball rests in the apex court, we can only hope for a fair judgement, one which would either dispose of the draconian law or at least lend credence and direction to its amendment in line with the 21st century.

Feature Image: bgr.in

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