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Sanjay Katkar

Indian Government backing Internet Governance – Is this the beginning of the end of free speech?

May 24, 2012
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Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

India is gradually coming down to the draconian path of Internet governance – a fact that is a tremendous cause for concern. The Internet is meant to be a free platform but India is now lending her voice to a growing cacophony from China, Cuba, Russia and the UAE to set up a democratic Internet governance structure in place. This structure is supposed to “balance private, commercial and public policy interests” but what does this mean for the end user? We have already witnessed several proclamations from the Indian Government accusing user comments across various platforms of disturbing religious and political sentiments. But will this really be the end of the road for the world’s biggest democracy? Freedom of speech is a fundamental right of democratic citizens and the proposed moderation of the World Wide Web is a direct violation of this right.

Undeniably, there are a few individuals who hide behind a mask of anonymity to vocalize disturbing thoughts but these constitute a minority. The opinions are clearly divided. There are certain sections of the Government sensationalizing offensive statements on public platforms. There are others like Dilip Sinha, Indian envoy to UN Committee on Science and Technology (UNCSTD), whose statement throws a rather confusing spanner into the proceedings. It goes, “Given the nature of IT networks, continuous coordination is required by all stakeholders including governments to maintain its open character. India wishes to emphasize the need for global coordination to ensure that Internet continues to be a free and secure medium for the whole world.” While his statement suggests a worldwide coordinated governance policy to maintain freedom, there are factions that condemn these very facets of the web. You can read more about this here.

How this process is executed and what will be the aftermath is yet to be seen. However, it will be a sorry state of affairs if as a democratic nation we are forced to accept Internet censorship. As for now, we can only hope that the policies being framed by the Committee for Internet-Related Policies (CIRP), formed in Geneva a few days back consisting of the countries mentioned above, are not fully implemented. Once this is administered, it is bound to disrupt the right to free speech over the Internet.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Sanjay Katkar
About Sanjay Katkar
Sanjay Katkar is the Joint Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer of Quick Heal Technologies Limited. He holds a Masters in Computer Science from University...
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5 Comments

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  1. Akshay ChaturvediMay 24, 2012 at 7:32 AM

    India is a democratic country,any effort to implement sensorship should be opposed this is the only platform where every one share his opinion whether right or wrong absoultly depends on readers discretion.

    Reply
  2. rhythm sapariaMay 24, 2012 at 7:56 AM

    i think it wont happen,india is an democratic country, if govt tries to do so there will be huge opposition by everyone and our rights of free speech will be back again!!

    Reply
  3. I think the worrisome part is that these kind of censorships are arbitrary in nature. What is suitable or what is not suitable is not for a few people in the ‘Internet governance structure’ to decide. It takes away the freedom of individual discretion and paves way for arbitrary authoritarianism down the path. World over, bureaucrats’ rhetoric over similar initiatives masks the unseen negative effects.

    Reply
  4. don mooreMay 24, 2012 at 11:05 PM

    There is no absolute “freedom of speech” even in democratic countries.Do i have the right to slander someone?Do i have the right to misrepresent,vilify or plagiarise.The net is already being “policed” concerning these things by security systems, google and individual web sites.The real issue is who do we trust to police the web against these things?Do we trust democratically elected governments or individuals?Are democratically elected governments truly representative or do they establish a dictatorship and simply change dictators every few years?Do individuals and individual companies give us more representation or do they fiddle the results.We really need someone who is not beholden in any way to either politics or the business interests of individuals and their companies to police the internet police.

    Reply
  5. Prithvi PanwarMay 26, 2012 at 6:41 AM

    This is ridiculousness…..they can’t escape from these kind of threats.

    Reply