Net freedom slightly up

DC
Published Dec 8, 2014, 11:33 am IST
Updated Mar 30, 2019, 8:26 am IST
In a country where communal harmony is vital, it is difficult to seek total freedom of an informal network
Given rising arrests of our 200 million-odd users who log on to the Internet, we can say India is only partly free
Representational Picture (Photo: AP)
 Given rising arrests of our 200 million-odd users who log on to the Internet, we can say India is only partly free
 Representational Picture (Photo: AP)

In a year when few nations have relaxed restrictions on Internet access and content, it is heartening that India has risen in the “Freedom on Net 2014” index (from 47 to 42). Given rising arrests of our 200 million-odd users who log on to the Internet, we can say India is only partly free. But to expect any medium to be an unfettered platform to vent the ire of individuals will unduly stretch freedom of speech and expression, that should always be subject to the rule of law.

There are some issues which keep cropping up, through the use of platforms like Facebook, as a tiny minority seem to use them to spread trouble. In a country where communal harmony is vital, it is difficult to seek total freedom of an informal network. While undue importance seems to be given to offensive posts poking fun at politicians, it is undeniable that some form of Net surveillance is essential for national security.

 

India ranks high in not putting obstacles to access and not limiting content that can be viewed. There is a need to take action over the violations of individuals’ rights, but no more so than in countries where Internet access is freer and more open than in India. National security calls for government agencies to step up efforts to scrutinise metadata, but there is no reason to believe that there are undue restrictions in India. Moving up further in the index does not appear to be a national priority.

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