India’s crackdown on the Internet

Posted on August 27, 2012

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In the backdrop of appeals by India to remove hate posts, world’s largest social networking website Facebook on Wednesday said it will remove content, block pages or even disable accounts of those users who upload contents that incite violence or perpetuate hate speech.

Comprehending the gravity, Facebook’s stern warning to its users comes in the wake of the Indian government bringing to its notice the posting of contents, including inflammatory matters and doctored pictures and videos to create social unrest in the country.

For the last several days I have been following India’s crackdown on the Internet, it has caused much debate. But was it legal? according to social media critics. India’s government says its moves this week to block websites,Twitter accounts and news portals and it was necessary to reduce simmering tensions over ethnic violence in the northeast of the country.

Authorities have far-reaching powers to do just that, laid down in rules framed in April 2011 under the country’s controversial new IT law.  In a nutshell the governments will take control and ultimately block users and ultimately domination by governments and many technology internet companies could be possible  ….well well well the debate & opinions are on going on various social sites and everyone is giving their opinion. A list leaked on the internet on Wednesday showed at least 300 URLs that the Indian government sought to ban following the racial violence that struck the north eastern province of Assam, killing over 80 people. The list mostly included YouTube and Facebook pages, as well as 30 Twitter URLs and 11 blogger sites India has moved to block journalists’ Indian cyber silence: Journalists muted after race riotsRT..

The Ministry of Communications said it was moving to tackle “inflammatory and harmful content continued to appear on the social networking sites.” The government crackdown also targeted number of high-profile journalists, attempting to put a gag on their posts. Among them was Kanchan Gupta, considered a far-right sympathizer in India.

The Indian government has censored internet postings from foreign media outlets – including the ABC and It’s trying to clamp down on websites which it says incite racial hatred last week thousands of migrant workers fled cities across southern India after mobile phone messages and internet sites spread rumours that Muslim groups were going to attack them.The government has restricted pre-paid phone access and blocked hundreds of websites to stop the scaremongering material. The government now faces a backlash against what critics say is an attack on personal freedoms.

South Asia correspondent Michael Edwards reports. Over the past few days, those with pre-paid phones in India got a strange text message.
hey were told they were being restricted to five texts a day, for national security reasons.
here’s how an operator for one of India’s main mobile services explained via audio Backlash in India over social media crackdow

ABC Radio Australia
Now this is an interesting video that was posted in April 2012 India has moved to block journalists’ Twitter accounts and websites, threatening
Although an  interesting point  This blogger  sums it up with a slant – “Double Standard”
Facebook to be honest as many users who are posting some wicked hate stuff and visually posting some images that are very offensive  to many of us.

The US government’s response to India’s blocking of websites and Twitter accounts is rather hypocritical. It has called on India to respect the right to freedom of expression on the Internet 

Coming from a country that is contemptuous of internet freedoms and its democratisation, as seen in Julian Assange’s case, the gratuitous advice is unwelcome. The US is deeply reluctant to cede its iron grip over the internet to even the United Nations. Its officials often state their support to full freedom of expression on the Internet but their actions speak differently.

The immense pressure they brought to bear on WikiLeaks to get it to shut down is just one example. When Assange refused to stop leaking documents that were embarrassing the US, it forced MasterCard, Amazon and Paypal to stop hosting WikiLeaks to prevent its raising funds to finance its operations. Besides, the US government is reportedly seeking to remove permanently material uploaded on the WikiLeaks website.

When reminded of this, US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, who hectored India on its blocking of websites, said that silencing WikiLeaks was not about freedom of the Internet. This reeks of double standards. In Washington’s rulebook, the online world can be silenced when it draws attention to the US’ dark deeds. When others shut down inflammatory websites that fuel violence and terror, Washington morphs into a champion of freedom of expression, hiding behind the garb of democracy to protect the profits of US internet companies.

It is not our argument that social media should be silenced. A blanket ban on twitter accounts or censoring online content is not in the best interests of India’s democracy. There is a danger of the government using national security as an excuse to silence opinion critical of poor governance. Ideally, it must avoid censorship and instead get internet companies to weed out offensive content.

China, which banned Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in the wake of riots in 2009 in Xinjiang province, has come out in India’s support. The two countries are expected to push for United Nations regulation of the Internet.

The US is opposed to ceding control to the UN, arguing that this will encourage states’ censoring of online content to monitor their citizens.  However, the US’ control of the virtual world and its selective censoring is unacceptable. Other countries must unite to loosen its grip.  Source  Deccan Herald

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