Friday, May 22, 2009

Websites Blocking In India

Censorship and e-surveillance have taken a nasty shape in India. Barely four months after dropping its proposal of forcing TV channels to show only an "authorised" feed during security emergencies, the government is now seeking to censor news portals and other websites, that too even at normal times.

Concerns regarding censorship and e-surveillance have been raised times and again by many techno-legal experts of India. Mr. Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner of Perry4Law, has suggested that the Congress led Government must openly declare that the Information Technology Amendment Act 2008 would be given a “fresh look” in the forthcoming Parliament session. With issues like cyber terrorism, cyber security, cyber forensics, hacking, wireless hacking, phishing, spam, child pornography, etc troubling India, a casual and weak law would not serve the purpose. In fact, there is an emergent need of formulating Information Technology Amendment Act, 2009 by the new Government and Parliament as soon as possible.

It is good to see that media has taken up the issue. The problem is that the same seems to be guided by the concern of “self-protection” rather than raising a voice against weak, ineffective and redundant laws dealing with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in India. It would be a good idea if the media takes firm stand against the proposed Information Technology Amendment Act, 2008 as the same is “unconstitutional”. Once brought into force, it would violate valuable “Civil Liberties” of Indian citizens and Indian media. The same would be pressed against the media as well so it is better to protest before it is too late.

Fortunately, the Information Technology Amendment Act, 2008 has “not been notified yet”. This means for all practical purposes the old Information Technology Act, 2000 still governs the position. Let us hope that the suggestions of Mr. Praveen Dalal would be accepted by the Indian Government and Indian Parliament for the larger interest of all.



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