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Published : December 16, 2011 | Author : raagyapzadu
Category : Cyber Law | Total Views : 6986 | Rating :

Raagya Priya Zadu BSL LLB 3rd year University of Pune

How free is the speech today? Today, India has a hundred million citizens and ten million netizins. Citizens of India are guaranteed a freedom of speech and expression to let out their views about the government and their representatives… but the same people on the internet are being subjected to censorship, which here a reasonable restriction onto the right as is guaranteed by the constitution. Across the globe, there has been a spectacular growth of micro-blogging sites and other social networks that it seems that the people are suddenly back with the power of the Written Word with a vengeance. And at the centre of it all is the independent voice: Of the humble blogger and those seemingly unimportant people on Facebook and Twitter who have shown that they not only have an opinion they are ready to voice with courage but they also have the power to influence public policy. The fight against corruption consolidated on the net. RTI data quickly reaches millions. Recently, IT and Telecommunications minister Kapil Sibal spoke to the media about censoring and monitoring the content which is being circulated. Reason? The government is varying about explicit content about the ministers and the outburst of the country’s own citizens regarding the policies and independence where the people took out on the roads … made vernacular press their instrument to voice the opinion of the common man, today, the common man himself has emerged to voice his opinion on the issues affecting him directly and indirectly and the government is trying to restrict his right of expression by monitoring their blogs, tweets and other material being shared.

The newest uproar in the country amongst the cyberspace is the remark of our minister on imposing reasonable restriction on the content being posted on social networking sites. He, in a press conference said that he has issued warnings to websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google to review the content on it to make sure that it is free of objectionable material. In a way, the IT minister is only trying to protect the ministers who complain of being depicted in a derogatory manner on the internet. It is the minister’s version that the Freedom of Speech and Expression should be used in a manner which is not objectionable and directed in the correct path and not be misused to an extent that it becomes defamatory and constitutes more of slander than expressions made in good faith. Alright. Contention Accepted. So the content should be censored. If so, by whom? Who is willing to take up this job of deciding which material content is derogatory and which not? Will the service provider decide which is actually the ‘Pipe’ through which the content flows or will the government do this monitoring through a regulator thus following the example of China which apparently has 30,000 people working only for the purpose of monitoring the data being circulated on the internet to make sure that nothing that is ‘’politically incorrect’’ comes into circulation.

The question now is that after allowing censorship, will India still remain a Democracy as it proclaims to be or will it be a ‘’regulated democracy’’ or rather a pseudo-democracy. Liberal ideas aside, practical ideology is that putting restrictions on the flow of expression of public opinion will only act as a compression bomb which will explode massively wreaking havoc in the country and the society. the government too realizes this fact and that is the reason why after days of issuing warning to social networking sites, telecommunications minister and his counterparts climbed down the ladder of censorship of the internet. The government will not take the chance to suppress its people and be termed as dictators or a separate sovereign. A restricted press and media will only gather unwanted controversy for the government thus fueling dirty politics and continuing this never ending cycle of controversies.

Concluding my take on this issue, I’d add another thing that I wish to say that the people and the government should realize one thing that the first censor is your own mind. Self-censorship is the only censorship that we all subject ourselves to in routine. If that is followed, there is going to be no instance of anyone pointing out that there needs to be a tab on the explicit and unrestricted opinion of the public. Secondly, issues which are sensitive to the society should not be brought up in a derogatory sense because there are mischievous elements in the cyberspace who are there only to take advantage of this situation thus creating tensions on communal grounds. This will not be good for public peace and maintenance of law and order in the country. When certain freedoms and liberties are granted to us, it is necessary that we act responsibly and use it for the betterment of not only ourselves, but also the society as a whole. There is a very thin line between using and misusing a right, as, every right has an equally important duty attached to it.

Authors contact info - articles The  author can be reached at: raagyapzadu@legalserviceindia.com

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