P Rajeeve’S motion in #Rajyasabha asking the amendment of #66A #ITact


P Rajeeve MP Rajya Sabha who has earlier moved the annulment montion in the Rajya Sabha is now moving a Private member motion today in the RS demanding the ammendment of IT act. The text of his speech is as follows:

1. SHRI P. RAJEEVE to move the following Resolution: –
“Having regard to the fact that –
(i) the Internet, an international network of interconnected computers that enables millions of people to communicate with one another incyberspace and to access vast amounts of information from around the world has provided an unprecedented platform for citizens to exercise their fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression, the freedom to create and innovate, to organize and influence, to speak and be heard;

(ii) in the last few months, a number of cases have come to light on how section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (herein after referred to as Act) is being arbitrarily used by the law enforcement agencies to arrest citizens in various parts of the country for posting comments on internet and social networking websites;

(iii) although the offense is bailable, the citizens are being detained without being granted bail and various countries have criticized these incidents as a slap on India‘s democracy;

(iv) the language and scope of legal terms used under section 66A of the Act are very wide and capable of distinctive varied interpretations with extremely wide parameters which have not been given any specific definitions under the law;

(v) clause (a) of section 66A of the Act uses expressions such as ‘grossly offensive’ and ‘menacing character’ which are not defined anywhere and are subject to discretionary interpretations;

(vi) clause (b) of section 66 A prescribes an imprisonment term up to three years for information that can cause annoyance, inconvenience, insult, criminal intimidation, thereby bundling disparate terms and providing similar punishment for criminal intimidation and causing inconvenience;

(vii) clause (c) of the same section although intended to handle spam nowhere defines it and makes every kind of spam a criminally punishable act, which is also against the world-wide norms;

(viii) the offence under section 66A of the Act is cognizable, and has made it possible for police to arrest citizens at odd times for example arresting two 21 years old women in Mumbai after sunset and a businessman at 5.00 a.m. in Puducherry;
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(ix) right to freedom of speech and expression is the foundation of all democratic countries and is essential for the proper functioning of the process of democracy;
(x) only very narrow and stringent limits have been set to permit legislative abridgment of the right of freedom of speech and expression;
(xi) the Supreme Court has given a broad dimension to Article 19 (1)(a) by laying down that freedom of speech under Article 19 (1)(a) not only guarantees freedom of speech and expression, it also ensures the right of the citizen to know and the right to receive information regarding matters of public concern;
(xii) in interpreting the Constitution we must keep in mind the social setting of the country so as to show a complete consciousness and deep awareness of the growing requirements of the society and the increasing needs of the nation and for this, the approach should be dynamic, pragmatic and elastic rather than static, pedantic or rigid;

(xiii) there are tremendous problems in the way section 66A of the amended Act has been drafted as this provision though inspired by the noble objectives of protecting reputations and preventing misuse of networks, has not been able to achieve its goals;

(xiv) the language of section 66A of the amended Act goes far beyond the reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech, as mandated under Article 19 (2) of the Constitution of India;

(xv) India, being the world’s largest vibrant democracy, reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech need to be very strictly construed and section 66A of the amended Act, needs to be amended to make the Indian Cyber law in sync with the principles enshrined in the Constitution of India and also with the existing realities of social media and digital platforms today;

(xvi) it has been pointed out that section 66A of the Act has been based on United States Code, Title V (Sections 501 & 502) of Telecommunication Act titled Communications Decency Act (CDA), it must be brought to the notice of this House that the United States Supreme Court has held that the CDA’s “indecent transmission” and “patently offensive display” provisions which abridge “the freedom of speech” protected by the First Amendment and thus unconstitutional, for instance, its use of the undefined terms like “indecent” and “patently offensive” provoke uncertainty among speakers about how the two standards relate to each other and just what they mean;

(xvii) the vagueness of such a content-based regulation, coupled with its increased deterrent effect as a criminal statute, raises Special First Amendment concerns because of its obvious chilling effect on free speech; and

(xviii) it has also been stated that section 66A of the Act has been based on United Kingdom’s section 127 of the Communication Act, 2003 which addresses improper use of public electronic communication network but the application of that section is restricted to a communication between two persons using public electronic communications network, i.e., mails written persistently to harass someone and not “tweets” or “status updates” that are available for public consumptions and which are not intended for harassment, also, the intention or mens rea element is crucial in it and further, the maximum punishment has been only up to six months in contrast to the three years mandated by Section 66A of the Act,

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this House urges upon the Government to –
(a) amend section 66A of the IT Act, 2000 in line with the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India;
(b) restrict the application of section 66A of the Act to communication between two persons;
(c) precisely define the offense covered by Section 66A of the Act;
(d) reduce the penalty imposed by section 66A of the Act; and
(e) make the offense under section 66A of the Act a noncognizable
offence.

 

ATTN -Call 09266802178 to demand repeal of Sedition Law


Support the campaign of People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) to repeal the draconian SEDITION LAW created by the British to stifle India’s freedom movement.

Today, the law is used in democratic India by the government to suppress criticism and crush dissent in violation of our Fundamental Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression, including the Right to Dissent.

We need your support to spread the campaign, so please urge everyone you know to call 09266802178 and pledge their support in demanding the repeal of this anti-democratic law.

 

#Russia -#Censorship f’Internet blacklist law takes effect #FOS #FOE


Children using a computer

Nov 1, 2012  BBC

A law that aims to protect children from harmful internet content by allowing the government to take sites offline has taken effect in Russia.

The authorities are now able to blacklist and force offline certain websites without a trial.

The law was approved by both houses of parliament and signed by President Vladimir Putin in July.

Human rights groups have said the legislation might increase censorship in the country.

The law is the amendment to the current Act for Information.

The authorities say the goal is to protect minors from websites featuring sexual abuse of children, offering details about how to commit suicide, encouraging users to take drugs and sites that solicit children for pornography.

If the websites themselves cannot be shut down, internet service providers (ISPs) and web hosting companies can be forced to block access to the offending material.

It will be [an attack on] the freedom of speech on the internet”

Yuri VdovinCitizens’ Watch

Critics have described it another attempt by President Vladimir Putin to exercise control over the population.

“Of course there are websites that should not be accessible to children, but I don’t think it will be limited to that,” Yuri Vdovin, vice-president of Citizens’ Watch, a human rights organisation based in Saint-Petersburg, told the BBC.

“The government will start closing other sites – any democracy-oriented sites are at risk of being taken offline.

“It will be [an attack on] the freedom of speech on the internet.”

Mr Vdovin said that to close a website, the government would simply have to say that its content was “harmful to children”.

“But there are lots of harmful websites out there already, for example, fascist sites – and they could have easily been closed down by now – but no, [the government] doesn’t care, there are no attempts to do so,” he added.

A risk for websites?

Besides NGOs and human rights campaigners, websites including the Russian search engine giant Yandex, social media portal Mail.ru and the Russian-language version of Wikipedia have all protested against the law.

Screengrab of Russian Wikipedia pageThe Russian version of Wikipedia went dark for a day in protest at the law in July

The latter, for instance, took its content offline for a day ahead of the vote in July, claiming the law “could lead to the creation of extra-judicial censorship of the entire internet in Russia, including banning access to Wikipedia in the Russian language”.

Yandex temporarily crossed out the word “everything” in its “everything will be found” logo.

“The way the new law will work depends on the enforcement practice,” said a spokesman.

“Yandex, along with other key Russian market players, is ready to discuss with lawmakers the way it is going to work.”

In July, the Russian social networking site Vkontakte posted messages on users’ homepages warning that the law posed a risk to its future.

However, the country’s telecom minister Nikolai Nikiforov, suggested that such concerns were overblown when he spoke at the NeForum blogging conference this week.

“Internet has always been a free territory,” he said, according to a reportby Russian news agency Tass.

“The government is not aimed at enforcing censorship there. LiveJournal, YouTube and Facebook showcase socially responsible companies.

“That means that they will be blocked only if they refuse to follow Russian laws, which is unlikely, in my opinion.

 

 

#India- Price of asking a question to a Minister #Chhattisgarh #torture #Foe #FOS


The Price of a Question

The price of a question

The Price of a Question

I am yet to recuperate from the I trauma I have been through after I innocently asked a question to Chief Minister Raman Singh at a public function at Raipur on October 7. I wonder if I will ever be able to bury the harrowing memories and move on in life.

The traumatic experience of being kicked, slapped, and punched by the cops outside the venue of the meeting and later inside a police station that day still plays in my mind when I retire to bed, giving me shudders in my sleep. The physical and mental agony caused by the police brutality has turned my life into a living hell. I am completely shattered, broken, and devastated now.

Although I am a Congress activist and general secretary of the youth wing of the Raipur Lok Sabha unit of the party, my decision to put forth a question to the chief minister at the farmers’ meet organized by Indira Gandhi Agriculture University had nothing to do with politics. In fact, I attended the event to submit a memorandum to Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, who inaugurated the meet, to bring into focus discrepancies between actual agriculture production in the state and the figures shown by the state government, established by RTI replies. But, Mr Pawar refused to accept the memorandum.
I could not resist the impulse to ask the chief minister to explain the reason behind the anomaly between production of paddy and the actual area under cultivation, when the latter made tall claims on the progress made in the agriculture sector in the state in his speech. I was utterly shocked to find him seething in anger and behaving in a manner on becoming of a chief minister, when I raised the issue armed with necessary documents at the function.

“Daru piker aya hai… ise uthakar le jao…“ (He is drunk… Throw him out…)”, the chief minister ordered the policemen, adding, “Na jane log kaise din mein bhi pite hain (I do not understand how some people consume liquor in the day).

Soon I was whisked away from the venue by policemen and taken to a nearby secluded place where I was beaten mercilessly.

I pleaded them not to hurt me since I am not an anti-social person. I was screaming in pain as the policemen went on raining blows on my face.

Later, I was shoved into a waiting police van. My ordeal did not end there and in fact it dawned on me that it had only begun. One police inspector sitting beside me on the backseat of the van started slapping me while another one grabbed me tightly. When I tried to dodge his punches, he hit me with his elbow on my back, straight into my ribs. I felt nauseous and cried in excruciating pain. I was taken to Tikrapara police station, where I was delivered blows on my stomach and face and kicked like a football by a police inspector. The torture continued for about 15 minutes.

He stopped tormenting me only when I threatened to commit suicide to escape persecution. I was then pushed into the lockup after being stripped of all my clothes barring the underwear.

I got a breather, but only for a few moments. About ten minutes later, a police officer surfaced in the police station. I was produced before him. He looked at me menacingly and asked me who planted me in the crowd to ask uncomfortable questions to the chief minister.

When I tried to convince him that it was not pre-planned, the police officer started smacking me on my ears with his both hands simultaneously for about two to three minutes. He only withdrew when he got tired and slumped onto a chair.

In that condition, I was produced before a local court, which sent me to jail. It was around 3 pm when I was taken to Raipur Central Jail. The jail authorities, however, refused to accept me when I complained that my head was reeling and there was pain in my stomach and back. Following this, I was brought to Raipur District Hospital for a medical checkup.

The hospital, however, referred me to the Ambedkar Medical College and Hospital at Raipur, where an X-ray was done on my back.

I was again taken to jail. The authorities admitted me into the jail hospital at night. The next morning, I was shifted to a prison cell where I had to share the room with hardcore criminals. I spent two days and two nights in jail. During that period, I had a lurking fear of threat to my life. I could hardly take the food given in the jail owing to illness. To my amazement, my fellow jail mates took care of me and their comforting words had a soothing effect on me.

What an irony! Humanity is imprisoned, whereas beastliness is set free.

After my release from jail on a personal bond, my family members admitted me to a private hospital. Medical tests there have confirmed loss of hearing and perforation in my left eardrum. Doctors recommended surgery to repair the damaged eardrum.

I am grateful to the media for highlighting my plight all through the ordeal. It is the media, which helped me the most during the crisis. This was the first time in my eight-year long political career; such inhuman cruelty was meted out to me by the government.

But more than the police torture, the chief minister’s irresponsible remarks, dubbing me a drunkard, did immensely harm my family and me. I am now determined to bring to book all my persecutors, who hurt me physically, mentally and socially. I will not rest till then.

#India- FM radio stations under scanner #Censorship #FOE #FOS


FM radio stations under govt's scanner

The government is planning to set up a facility that will monitor the programme content that is broadcast on FM Radio stations during the 12th Five year plan. Information and Broadcasting secretary Uday Kumar Varma said there was a need to monitor radio content as nearly 800 more FM channels are likely to come up in the next couple of years.

Speaking at a function at the Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC) here, he said, “The whole world of monitoring of radio content is still to be handled and addressed in a meaningful manner. We do have a mechanism but I think we need to keep that mechanism evolving. With 800 plus FM channels expected to come in next one to three years, there will be quite a handful that will need to be addressed”.

He said private channels in the coming days would get permission to broadcast news which makes the need to monitor content important. “They will begin with AIR news but local news in any case, they may be allowed to generate and broadcast and that would have several manifestations which will need to be monitored,” Varma said.

Later speaking to PTI, Ranjana Dev Sarmah, Director EMMC said the content monitoring body was planning to expand its operations to include radio content and increase the number of television channels. “During the 12th five year plan period, we intend to set up the mechanism to monitor radio content as per the I&B ministry’s instructions,” Sarmah said.

“We also plan to increase the number of TV channels which are monitored from the current 300 to upto 1200 in the coming days,” he said. The EMMC is a department under the I&B ministry which monitors TV content round-the-clock and reports violations of rules and also carries out analysis. Earlier in his speech, the I&B secretary said EMMC was presently confined to satellite transmission but with the onset of digitisation of cable services, new technologies could be looked in to to see what content goes into the cable viewers’ homes.

Varma said that analysis of television content was another challenge that faced the EMMC. “It is good to know which channel is transmitting what kind of programme….which channel is the one which actually uses maximum time for advertisements on may be weekly basis or half yearly basis,” he said. “What kind of rural reporting the channels actually resort to in terms of their overall time devoted to matters which relate to the villages of India or developmental dimensions of the country…may be women, may be children or may be physically challenged and then there are sensitive analysis from the political point of view,” Varma added.

Secretary I&B said that the EMMC could set up its own Research and Analysis Wing which could be known as EMMC – RAW.

Agency/Source
Press Trust Of India

Freedom to criticize religion is a touchstone of free expression’ #censorship #FOE


 

by Farooq Sulehria

Anyone incensed by symbolic violence, such as the video in the US or cartoons in France, should retaliate with symbolic violence in the same way or with peaceful protest. Not through physical violence

Muslims should ‘simply ignore the crazy provocations,’ Gilbert Achcar says. He thinks that those who engaged in violent protests against the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ video did exactly what the video’s production team were hoping for as a result of their provocation.

Gilbert Achcar grew up in Lebanon and teaches at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. Among his books are The Clash of Barbarisms, which came out in a second expanded edition in 2006; a book of dialogues with Noam Chomsky on the Middle East, Perilous Power: The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy (2nd edition in 2008); and most recently The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives (2010). His next book analyzing the Arab upheaval will come out in the spring of 2013.

While Achcar strongly condemns Islamophobic hate material, he rejects any curtailment of free speech in the name of preventing blasphemy. ‘Freedom to criticize religion is a major touchstone of the right to free expression,’ he says in an interview with Farooq Sulehria for Pakistan’s Viewpoint Online.

Q: A decade after your book The Clash of Barbarisms, written in the aftermath of 9/11, it seems that the situation has only worsened. A caricature in an obscure newspaper, an immature video: anything can ignite a ‘clash of barbarisms’ disguised as a ‘clash of civilisations’. How would you analyse the ongoing wave of protests against the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ video in parts of the Muslim world?

Gilbert Achcar (GA): The clash of barbarisms that I analysed should not be seen through the lens of such incidents, but rather through much more serious issues such as Guantanamo, the invasion of Iraq, the torture at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, the increasing resort of the USA to extra-judicial killings, etc. Such events do indeed represent setbacks in the civilizing process.

The reactive barbarism found in the Muslim world is mostly incarnated by al-Qaida and other ultra-fundamentalist currents such as the Taliban (whatever goes under this umbrella) and exhibited in much more serious events than the recent demonstrations, such as the dreadful and endless sectarian killings in Iraq, for instance.

These antagonistic barbarisms feed off each other. Of course, the main culprits remain the most powerful: the world powers, the Western powers as well as Russia, which have created this dynamic of adverse barbarisms in the first place.

Q: In Pakistan, at least, the mainstream discourse is to point out Western, especially US, hypocrisy when it comes to freedom of expression. ‘Holocaust denial is a crime,’ is a common refrain. Your comment?

GA: First of all, let us set the record straight. Denying Holocaust is a punishable offence only in some Western countries, not in all of them. It is not liable for punishment in the USA itself. Holocaust deniers freely publish their insanities in the US. This fact is disregarded by all those who use the ban on Holocaust denial as an argument against the USA.

As a matter of fact, there are laws against hate speech in all Western countries, except the US where the First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits any restriction to free speech. In upholding this principle, the US Supreme Court went so far, in 1977, as defending the right of the American Nazi Party to march through the village of Skokie a substantial proportion ofwhose inhabitants were Jewish concentration camp survivors. True, there have been violations of this right, particularly for Muslims in the US in the wake of 9/11 and the subsequent surge of Islamophobia. But it remains always possible to fight back legally, and civil rights movements are active on such issues.

In Europe, when you feel you have been a victim of hate speech, you can resort to legal action. The question of Western double standard is usually raised with regard to Jews there, as it is much more difficult in Europe to articulate an anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic speech than an Islamophobic one. But this state of affairs owes to two factors.

The first is Europe’s sense of guilt with regard to the Jewish genocide perpetrated by Nazi Germany during the Second World War with much European complicity.

The second is that there are powerful Jewish institutions that react vigilantly against any gesture they deem anti-Semitic, often abusively by equating the critique of Israel with anti-Semitism. They are powerful, but note how they react. Not by holding violent demonstrations that would actually increase anti-Semitism, but by engaging in legal proceedings, publishing articles, and so on. Sometimes they even resort to what may be called intellectual terrorism in trying to intimidate critics of the Israeli state or Zionism with accusations of anti-Semitism.

This said, those who say that freedom of expression in the West is biased against Islam because it is less tolerant of anti-Jewish expression forget that the religion of the overwhelming majority in the West is not Judaism, but Christianity. When it comes to Christianity, Westerners are free to mock the Pope, Jesus Christ, or even God without fear of reprisals. Some of the major artistic and literary works in the West are satirical of Christianity or religion in general in ways that you can’t imagine nowadays when it comes to Islam in the Muslim world.

True, there are some Christian fundamentalist groups that can resort to violence every now and then against anti-religious works. But they are completely marginal. Their violence is punished by law and it never reaches the level of what has been done these last days in the name of religion, which is matched only by the violence of Jewish fundamentalist colonial settlers in Palestine. Moreover, one should not forget that freedom of expression in Europe – in the UK in particular – has been of much greater benefit to Islamic fundamentalists of all brands who sought a refuge there fleeing oppression in Muslim countries than it has to people committing provocations such as those we are discussing.

Anyone incensed by symbolic violence, such as the video in the US or cartoons in France, should retaliate with symbolic violence in the same way or with peaceful protest. Not through physical violence. Resorting to physical violence against a symbolic act is a sign of intellectual weakness. You remember how the Taliban destroyed the gigantic Buddhas in Bamyan. These Buddhas were a World Heritage Site. Did Buddhists react violently? In Egypt and Nigeria, Christians and churches have been repeatedly and bloodily attacked in recent months. Did you see violent demonstrations of Christians worldwide retaliating against Muslim countries? People appreciate the difference between the lunatic fringe that carries out attacks on Christians and the general Muslim population. Muslims should also realise that the violent Islamophobic lunatic fringe in Western countries is marginal, actually much more marginal than the violent Islamic fundamentalist lunatic fringe in Muslim countries.

Crazy provocations like the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ film or the burning of Korans by the crackpot Terry Jones are best ignored. They are so stupid that they don’t deserve any reaction at all. The greatest service one can render to these provocateurs is to respond wildly to their provocations. Agitators are successful when they are able to arouse the feelings of the targeted group. This is why some people rightly argue that the ban on Holocaust denial in France, for instance, is counter-productive. Due to that ban, French Holocaust deniers have become very famous in France, whereas hardly anybody knows the name of US Holocaust deniers in the USA. Had nobody reacted to Terry Jones’s damn-fool provocations, they would have remained unknown, as have thousands of such anti-Islamic utterances. Had nobody paid attention to him, he would not have carried on his dreadful farce. These lunatics have an Islamophobic agenda. Muslim political forces that react in the violent way that we have seen actually reinforce the very Islamophobia against which they protest.

Salman Rushdie’s kind of work falls into a different category, of course. It cannot be dismissed as rubbish. He is a major contemporary writer. However, his Satanic Verses are very innocuous indeed compared to satires of Christianity, or even Judaism for that matter, which are freely available in the West.

Q: Since the Salman Rushdie affair there have been the Danish cartoons, Geert Wilders’ film, and now the film produced in the US. Every time we see wild massive reactions. How do you explain that?

GA: The fact is, very obviously, that certain political forces exploit such events to agitate for their cause, as Khomeini did in the case of the Rushdie affair. He never read Salman Rushdie’s book, in the same way as most demonstrators against the anti-Islam film have not seen it. It is always the same story: some political forces exploit such occasions by stirring up the raw feelings of politically illiterate people in order to push their own political agenda. Fundamentalist forces have always seized upon such provocations. This is how they build their influence.

Q: In Pakistan, a common idea peddled by the government, Islamists and mainstream media is to demand worldwide UN legislation banning blasphemy? What do you think of this demand?

GA: I am hundred percent against it. The notion of blasphemy is a medieval notion. Those who make such a demand want to bring us back to the Middle Ages. If you want to prohibit criticism of religion, you will have to prohibit it for all religions. To implement a ban on blasphemy one will have to proscribe a huge number of works of literature, art and philosophy accumulated over many centuries in all languages, including Arabic of course. Such works are presently banned in the Arab world, but this is a testimony to the lack of freedom of expression.

The freedom to criticize religion is a major touchstone of the right to free expression. As long as a society does not tolerate this freedom, it has not achieved freedom of expression. It is a duty of all people committed to democratic freedoms to raise their voices against barbaric reactions to lunatic provocations. Capitulation to religious demagogy will entail a huge cost at all levels. Once set in motion this process of curtailment of free speech will have no limit. Who will decide what is blasphemous and what is not?

Q: The demonstrators in Pakistan targeted symbols of wealth (banks, cars, ATM machines) or Western culture (cinemas, theatres). Some people view these violent actions in the Muslim world as part of a wider political conflict between the West and the Muslim world. What is your opinion?

GA: I disagree. Violence can be understandable under certain circumstances when people are demonstrating against social and economic assaults on their livelihood or in protest against actual slaughter, massacres, invasions, or occupations perpetrated by Western powers, or the Zionist occupation in Palestine. And yet, the fact is that many real massacres committed by Western powers or Zionists did not lead to any comparable reactions. The truth is that the violence on display is above all a political exploitation by fundamentalists of a provocation for utterly reactionary purposes.

Q: The left in most of the Muslim countries is a small force and is often caught in a strange situation during such crises. While the left, in Pakistan for instance, condemns racist provocations, it advocates curtailment of free speech with regard to religion. What do you think of this attitude?

GA: We are reaping today the result of the left’s failure over many decades to raise the basic secular demand of separation of religion from state. Secularism – including freedom of belief, religion, and irreligion – is an elementary condition of democracy. It should be, therefore, an elementary part of any democratic project, let alone a left project. But most of the left in my part of the world, the Arab region, has capitulated on this issue.

For instance, in Egypt, large sections of the left, including the radical left, have all but dropped the term secularism from their vocabulary. Ironically, when the ‘Islamist’ Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan visited Egypt, he stated publicly that he stood for secularism, to the chagrin of the Muslim Brotherhood.

If the left wants to challenge the hegemony of Islamic forces and develop a counter-hegemonic movement in the political, social and cultural spheres, it must fight resolutely for secularism as well as against gender oppression – another fight from which many on the left also shy away in fear of ‘hurting the feelings’ of the believers. This is a self-defeating strategy.

Farooq Sulehria is currently pursuing his media studies. Previously, he has worked with Stockholm-based Weekly Internationalen. In Pakistan, he has worked with The Nation, The Frontier Post, The News, and the Pakistan. He has MA in Mass Communication from the University of Punjab, Lahore. He also contributes for Znet and various left publications internationally.

 

Internet blocks, freedom of expression and reasonable restrictions


 

Nikhil Pahwa, of  http://www.medianama.com/ writes on FB
Four points I made yesterday at the FICCI organized meeting with the IT Secretary R. Chandrashekhar and CERT-in Head Gulshan Rai on IT Rules, Internet blocks, freedom of expression and reasonable restrictions  (from my scribbled notes):
1. I’m concerned about the broad phrases included in the IT Rules which make illegi

timate censorship of content on the web legitimate, and bring in the scope for unreasonable restrictions. There needs to be specificity in the IT Rules and the broad phrases which allow intermediariesto block content on the web need to be changed/revisited because they create the medium for abuse of the rules as and when the government/a regulator wants.2. Lack of transparency leads to lack of trust. People need to know what has been blocked, why it has been blocked, who has taken the decision to block it, and what is the process of getting the block removed (if it is my page). When citizens visit a blocked page, there should be all of this information for that specific page. Transparency will ensure accountability. (In my haste, a point I’ve made before but forgot to make here – there needs to be a public list of blocked sites maintained by the government).

3. Recourse needs to be established. If my page is blocked, there needs to be adequate protection for me, as a creator of content, a citizen and a business. It’s not possible for me to go to court in each instance, to get a block removed. Let the complainant go to court to validate his complaint within a specified time period, for which the block remains active. If not, the block should be removed. (Someone also mentioned a counter notice mechanism, which I think is fair).

4. Limitations need to be put on the actions of intermediaries when it comes to blocking. The state’s job is to not just prevent malicious content, but also to protect the rights of citizens, in terms of freedom of expression. After Anonymous India hacked into the servers of one intermediary (ISP/Telco), it was revealed that several of the links blocked had not been mandated by courts or the government, but were those critical of the intermediary. This means that ISPs are themselves potentially curtailing freedom of expression online, and this needs to be looked into.

One of the key points I remember being made was about the government also sticking to the rules, because it appears that in the recent blocks, they haven’t followed due process, even though Mr Rai repeatedly claimed that they have, (alarmingly) even with respect to the blocking of some media reports like that on Al Jazeera.

 

Indian Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi to be tried For Treason #sedition #WTFnews


Indian cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, this year’s Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award winner (along with Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat) plans on turning himself over to the police in Mumbai in the next couple of days over controversial cartoons he posted on his web site that parody India’s national symbols.

Trivedi was charged in January with treason and insulting India’s national symbols, and if found guilty, he could face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to 5,000 rupees (about $100).

In the cartoon below, Trivedi took India’s national emblem of the Four Sarnath Lions of King Asoka that sit above the motto “Satyamev Jayate” (truth alone shall triumph) and re-drew them as bloodthirsty wolves on the re-worded motto “Bhrashtamev Jayate” (long live corruption):

In another offending cartoon, Trivedi drew the Indian parliament building as a toilet:

There is a long tradition of editorial cartoonists using symbols of states to express opinions about governments. Drawing a legislature or parliament building as a toilet is common.  I recently drew our Capitol building in Washington as a toilet:

The offending cartoon below by Trivedi shows the “Mother of India” being held down by politicians and bureaucrats, about to be raped by corruption:

The Indian Constitution allows for “the right to freedom of speech and expression.” Trivedi’s critics argue that while he is allowed to mock and poke fun at politicans, it is a crime to mock the national emblem, the parliament and the Indian flag.

Read an interview that Trivedi gave to Cartoonist Rights Network International, here’s a quote:

“I am democratic. I am patriotic. I have a twenty-four year life without any charges of corruption. I am only making cartoons. … I am talking about nationalism. I love my country. I am reacting [to the corruption] in my own way. Someone is protesting. Somebody is a doing hunger strike in India. [As for me,] I am a cartoonist.”

There is a lot of sensitivity in India about cartoons that offend religious sensitivities, but cartoons that bash the state must be fair game. I would argue that editorial cartoonists must disrespect governments and symbols of governments as a professional obligation.

Tweeting the Principles of Internet Freedom #FOE #Censorship


 

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

 

 

 

Posted 6 August 2012 15:39 GMT

 

Here’s a good opportunity to share with your friends and coworkers on Twitter, as well as other Declaration supporters and signers whatThe Declaration of Internet Freedom principles personally mean to you, why you value these principles and how these issues effect your life.

To encourage further engagement and feedback on the Declaration we hope that you, a member of Global Voices community will in the following weeks use Twitter to highlight your opinion on one principle of the declaration a week. To discuss the first principle “Don’t censor the Internet”, please use these hashtags this week:#netfreedom #censorship. Below is a schedule of when we will begin to highlight each principles and which hashtags we plan to use each week.

Please tweet your own opinions about what each principle means to you. Your input adds a lot of value to the discussion. Also, follow the hashtags and respond to individuals who are interested in discussing the principles. If there are new developments happening in your country which effect your freedom on the internet, share them using the week’s hashtags. At the end of each week Katy Tasker, of Public Knowledge will curate a Storify page to highlight the most interesting tweets on each principle.

Weekly schedule:

July 30: Expression: Don’t censor the Internet #netfreedom #censorship

Aug 6: Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks #netfreedom #access

Aug 13: Openness: Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to… #netfreedom #openinternet

Aug 20: Innovation: Protect freedom to innovate, don’t block new technologies #netfreedom #innovation

Aug 27: Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone’s ability to control how their data and devices are used#netfreedom #privacy

 

 

 

Dear Twitter: Corporate censorship is still #censorship


 

Andrew Couts July 31, 2012 By

Twitter corporate censorship

Opinion: Twitter’s apparent willingness to censor a user to protect its corporate friends damages the company’s image as a champion for free speech.

UPDATE: Guy Adams’s Twitter account has been restored, as of about 1:35pm ET.

By now, you’ve likely heard about the debacle surrounding British journalist Guy Adams’s Twitter account, which was suspended by Twitter after Adams topped off a tirade against NBC’s time delayed London Olympics coverage by publishing the work email address of Gary Zenkel, NBC’s executive in charge of its Olympics broadcast.

If not, here’s a quick primer: Adams, as Twitter explained to him in an email, had violated the microblogging service’s privacy policy by publishing Zenkel’s email address. Twitter forbids the posting of “another person’s private and confidential information.” As the media has been quick to point out, however, it is not entirely clear that Adams actually violated anything.

For a moment, let’s ignore the fact that Adams posted Zenkel’s work email address — not his personal address, nor his phone number or home address — which some might consider “public” by nature. Twitter’s rules go on to explain that, “If information was previously posted or displayed elsewhere on the Internet prior to being put on Twitter, it is not a violation of this policy.” While it is now quite difficult to find any links through a Google search that were not published after Adams’s Twitter suspension, Chris Taylor of Mashable was able to find Zenkel’s email posted online prior to the current hoopla. And now, of course, Zenkel’s email address has been re-posted all over the Web.

But it’s clear at this point that Twitter — NBC’s “official narrator” for the 2012 Olympics — simply used its privacy policy as an excuse to shut up Adams. As the Telegraph reports, it was Twitter, not NBC, that first noticed Adams’s harsh criticism of the network. Twitter brought Adams to NBC’s attention, and NBC subsequently filed the complaint form that led to Adams’s inevitable account suspension.

As far as censorship on Twitter goes, this is deeply disturbing on several levels. First, it shows that Twitter is willing to bend its rules for users to meet its own ends. (If Twitter is NOT bending its rules, I’d love to hear from Twitter how that is possible. Sadly, the company is staying mum on the matter.) Second, it shows that Twitter’s commitment to transparency and free speech on its network has as much value as Monopoly money.

Back in January, Twitter announced that it had changed its censorship policy so that censored tweets would only appear censored in the country whose government issued the takedown order. Twitter would also post any instance of censorship on the independent watchdog site ChillingEffects.org. The move sparked outrage amongst users who saw the policy change as Twitter bending to totalitarian governments that seek to silence their citizens.

At the time, I defended Twitter’s new policy: Rather than increase censorship on Twitter — a platform that served a vital role in Iran’s Green Revolution, the Arab Spring uprisings, and the Occupy Wall Street movement — the new policy would actually decrease censorship, since removed tweets would only appear invisible to residents of a single country, not the whole world, as was previously the case. It was not Twitter we should be boycotting, I said, it was the totalitarian governments that seek to imprison the ideas of their people.

While I stand by that logic, this NBC disaster proves that oppressive regimes are not the only enemy Twitter users need to worry about: Twitter’s very existence as a company is a problem.

Twitter may be willing to stand up to governments who push around its users, but it is apparently not beyond doing some shoving itself. Since Twitter has so far refused to further explain its suspension of Adams’s account, we can only assume that the fateful move was born of greed — a need to build a relationship with a corporate behemoth like NBCUniveral. What’s to prevent Twitter from roughhousing its users again for similar reasons? Nothing, obviously.

Of course, all of this should be expected. Twitter is, after all, a company, not a publicly owned service like 911. And companies ultimately exist to make money. Rather than join the media pile-on that is currently underway, I wanted to believe that there was some socially justifiable reason for Adams’s account suspension. But as someone who once defended Twitter against those who thought it held the ideals of free speech above its bottom line, however, I must admit that this whole sad saga with NBC and Adams was, disappointingly, inevitable. So the next time you try to pose as a champion of your users and for free speech in general, Twitter, forgive me for taking a more skeptical stance. You are, it seems, just the same as the rest.

Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/nbc-vs-guy-adams-twitters-disappointing-foray-into-corporate-censorship/#ixzz22Gs8Q4BH

 

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