Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Blogging community in trouble ?

Cyberworld was one of the invisible pillars of democracy signifying freedom of speech and expression without fear of appraisal from the Govt agencies.  The move to muzzle the freedom of the blogging community through the IT ACT 2008 amendment calls for penalty of upto  Rs 3 crores or imprisonment upto to three years.


The due diligence specifies that the intermediaries should not display upload, modify or publish any information that is harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, blasphemous, objectionable, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, libellous, invasive of another's privacy, hateful, disparaging, racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable, relating to money laundering or gambling.


IF the law is passed there will be no whistle blowers, RTI activists, or seekers of punishment to wrong doers active on the forum.  Will the likes of  TWITTER, FACEBOOK, ORKUT, survive the draconian law proposed to be introduced.  Gone will be days of opening up your mind on these forums.  The blogging community will become another impotent tool being subject to intense due diligence by the law enforcement agencies.


I am afraid that the need for regulation should arise from the blogging community itself.  There should be an automous body like PRESS CLUB OF INDIA or BAR COUNCIL OF INDIA, which will decide upon the censuring, regulating content rather than being penalised by law agencies.  Reporting of in appropriate content should be referred to such independent body.  The body should be able to judge from the merits of the post.  The aim of the blogging community should able freely express against any wrong doing by whomsover without fear of reprisal.  Immunity should be provided against legal hassles.  An opportunity should be provided for the blogger in case of erroneous judgement, that he should either withdraw the post or apologise for the indiscretion or wrong judgement.  I invite suggestions from fellow and concerned bloggers to express their views on the the proposed draconian law against the bloggers.  


Note :  Headlines in economic times dated 9/3/2011 Bloggers call content regulation " a gag on Freedom "

Bloggers Call Content Regulation a Gag on Freedom 

Amended Indian IT Act which seeks legal position of intermediaries at the heart of controversy 

SRIVIDYA IYER BANGALORE 

A proposed government move to regulate content on blogs has ignited a firestorm of protest from the blogging community which is accusing the government of restricting free speech and acting like the guardians of a police state.At the heart of the issue is the Indian IT Act which was amended in 2008 to incorporate the much-needed changes to clarify the legal position of intermediaries or those who provide web-hosting services,internet service providers and online auction sites.However,the term intermediaries,for some reason,was also broadened to include blogs,though they neither provide the same kind of services like the ISPs nor have large-scale commercial interests.The law stated that the government should clarify the rules under which the intermediaries should function and the list of prohibitions applicable to them.The list was published sometime last month and comments were invited from members of the public,bloggers and other members of the intermediaries group.Intermediaries include web hosting providers which would include companies like Amazon,cyber-cafes,payment sites like Paypal,online auction sites,internet service providers like BSNL,Airtel etc.Blogs also fall in this category as networked service providers.The due diligence specifies that the intermediaries should not display,upload,modify or publish any information that is harmful,threatening,abusive,harassing,blasphemous,objectionable,defamatory,vulgar,obscene,pornographic,paedophilic,libellous,invasive of anothers privacy,hateful,disparaging,racially,ethnically or otherwise objectionable,relating to money laundering or gambling.Its a fundamentally flawed exercise.One has to keep in mind the nuanced role of bloggers.The government needs to understand the power of the blogging community, said Pavan Duggal,senior advocate,Supreme Court and cyber law expert.The blogosphere has to align themselves to the changes in the norm, he said.

 


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