I was shocked when IHM sent out a mail the other day informing people that the Indian government was drafting a law on monitoring Indian blogs. I really thought we were beyond this. I mean after all the progress Indian civil society has made in the past few years, with all the Supreme Court’s observations about the importance of freedom of speech even if it offends people, we’re still hit with this kind of crap.
Well, I can understand certain restrictions. If I were to blog about the locations of secret nuclear installations, that would be an issue. If I were to put up pictures of child porn, I can see why the government should hold me responsible. The real problem is the reasons for which a blog can be taken down. Just look at the proposals:
You’re not allowed to “annoy” people :D – A lot of people annoy me on the web. I put up with it.
You can’t indulge in “blasphemy”: Or what – I get shot like those poor guys in Pakistan?
Your blog can’t “incovenience” people – Someone’s delicate feelings are hurt on my site which they choose to visit and that’s my problem?
You can’t “disparage” someone – What exactly does that mean? If I feel a guy’s an asshole I can’t call him that?
To cap it all, it says anything “otherwise objectionable” can land me in jail for 2 years (!) or a fine of a few lakhs.
On reading the draft proposal, it seems the government wants to put my humble blog on par with a telecom company by calling it an “intermediary.” They want me to run it like a business, with ISO certifications! The only phrase I can find which describes this move is “monumentally stupid” and is a symptom of a government which is badly out of touch with reality and just doesn’t “get” what the Internet is all about.
On the other hand, I’m happy there’s hell being raised. Three years ago when the govt. implemented the draconian IT amendment bill, there was no outcry at all. No one knew about it and no one cared. I had to get the news from a US tech site called Slashdot which was stunned that India “Sleepwalked into a surveillance state.” Looks like things are very different now than just a few years back. The government won’t have the balls to push this bullshit law now that it’s kicked up such a shitstorm. In any case, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will strike it down as soon as someone challenges it.
My blog is my personal space. I’m not forcing anyone to visit. You come here at your own peril. As an adult, you’re qualified to make the choice to either leave or stay. If you stay, it’s my rules and my content. If you get offended, that’s your tough luck. Deal with it. Don’t go crying to the authorities that I offended your precious sensibilities. The Indian government’s attempt to tell me what I can and cannot say is insulting. It has no business being the arbitrator of what is acceptable or not. Especially when no one is forced to visit any web page on the Internet.