India faces backlash over web censorship

2012-08-24 13:05
Indian villagers leave their homes following ethnic clashes in Kokrajhar. (AP)

Indian villagers leave their homes following ethnic clashes in Kokrajhar. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New Delhi - India's attempt to block online material that it blames for fuelling ethnic tensions was on Friday described by internet experts as "monumentally incompetent" and "completely illegal".

The government over the past week has ordered internet service providers to block 309 web pages, images and links on sites including Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, news channel ABC of Australia and Qatar-based Al-Jazeera.

The orders were an effort to halt the spread of inflammatory material and rumours that Muslims were planning to attack students and workers who have migrated from the northeast region to live in Bangalore and other southern cities.

But Twitter users, legal experts and analysts criticised the government's approach.

"The officials who are trusted with this don't know the law or modern technology well enough," said Pranesh Prakash, programme manager at the Centre for Internet and Society research group.

"It is counter-productive. I accuse them of monumental incompetence, given that the main problem is that they are getting really bad advice.

"I hope that this fiasco shows the folly of excessive censorship and encourages the government to make better use of social networks and technology to reach out to people."

Co-operation

Among the content blocked were photographs from Myanmar in the British Daily Telegraph, a parody Twitter account pretending to be from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and dozens of YouTube videos.

ABC issued a statement saying it was "surprised by the action and we stand by the reporting" after one of its stories about ethnic unrest between Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar was included on the blocking list.

Vivek Sood, senior Supreme Court lawyer and an author on internet legalisation, said he believed the government was acting unlawfully.

"It's completely illegal under the Indian IT Act," he told the Economic Times. "It's a gross abuse of power by the government."

The government has blamed the internet sites for fanning fears that resulted in tens of thousands of migrants fleeing back home to the northeast last week.

Ministers have defended the blocking and complained they have not received co-operation from websites and social network groups over "inflammatory and harmful" content.

Journalist Kanchan Gupta, who is often critical of the government and had his Twitter account blocked in recent days, called the move a "political vendetta".
Read more on:    internet  |  social networks
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

13 summer safety tips

Summer time and the burning is easy. Get some great tips to ensure sunburn doesn't spoil your holiday!

 
 

I love summer.24

This man's reaction to his Christmas present is priceless!
LOL! Cats destroying Christmas trees
Great tips for surviving the holidays
The ugliest Christmas trees ever?

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off the bestselling books

Save big on the most captivating reads of 2014. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may feel more sensitive than usual and there may be something or someone blocking the flow of things. There is a strong desire...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.