One of the biggest challenges will be finding an appropriate balance between
protecting anonymity and enforcing consequences for the abusive behavior that
has been allowed to characterize online discussions for far too long - Bailey
Poland writer, feminist, and activist, as well as the creator of the literary
journal Leaves and Flowers
This era is known as the digital era, an era of information and communication
technology. With the proliferation of the internet regime during the recent
past and dependency, the world has witnessed a revolutionary impact of
various technological developments including the development of the
The emergence of social media, one of the most
important representative of communication technology in the internet regime is
considered indispensible in the present day digital world that has opened a new
vistas of opportunities pregnant with enormous potentiality, the benefit of
which is confined not only to a particular generations or country but to the
world at large irrespective of age, caste, religion, culture, race, creed and
It has such tremendous potentiality that wherever and whatever
field it may be, be it social, educational, administration and political,
cultural or economical (business and marketing), health etc., in each and every
field, we are experiencing transformations as most of the works are possible
sitting at home with the extensive cooperation of the internet. It is thereby
threw challenges to the traditional methods of communication with which we were
quite acquainted and in some cases either such traditional mode of communication
has set at rest or despite following such traditions the new evolution has
successfully overcome it.
Today it is absurd to think a life where the influence
of such technological development could not be found.
As the social media is considered as a useful tool to express freely one's own
view publicly on social issues with a bonafide intention for the benefit of the
society, many a times it has been seen that such public exposure might have led
to such a voluminous effect on the society at large and the ruling party in
particular, that the person who had expressed such opinion has to face different
types of social stigmas such as ‘terrorist', ‘desh ka gaddar' if anything said
against the government resulting in the arrest of the person including his
On the other hand, if something has said on social issues
against the flow or trend, such as supporting LGBT's and their rights, speaking
on hate speech, COVID-19, supporting the alleged rapist etc. the obvious result
would be that the maker of such opinion would be subject to social boycott with
a threat to murder, sexual abuse, kidnapping and so on and so forth. Of course,
there are people, who, with a malafide intention, are using the social media as
a weapon to express their views in order to attract the attention of the public
to gain some mental satisfaction trolling people who, genuinely believed that
the statement was fair enough and is justified, still the maker will be subject
On the flipside, there are people, who hold the view
that to make a (fair) comment against the flow or to be a part of
minority/dissent opinion is not only the right of the commentator, it is a
protected right, to be cherished living in a democracy. Such comment and counter
comments sometimes lead to trolling with an unfortunate ending.
In order to
avoid this situation, it has been noticed during the recent past that people
takes the shield of anonymity, to safeguard not only one's own life and the
life of family members, it also helps in protecting the lives of others as well.
With a view to unveiling the truth, it is important that citizen should exercise
its freedom of justified opinion on the public forum on different issues in tune
with the democracy, of course, within the veil of anonymity.
The anonymous, by
keeping its name undisclosed, is also protected under the privacy right which is
a fundamental right and this would help enjoying his right to life freely
without any fear of danger which is possible only if there exist any law
protecting the right of the anonymity in the social media. In India, we do not
have any law so far, enacted by the legislature. There are some laws under which
the right of the anonymity may be dealt with and the two such important laws in
India in connection with the same are: The Information Technology Act, 2000 and
The Indian Penal Code, 1860. There cannot be any law unless and until
Constitution of India contains provisions to that effect.
provisions under Part III of the Constitution of India relating to the anonymity
right fall under Article 19 (1) (a) deals with fundamental freedom of speech and
expression and Article 21 fundamental right to life and personal liberty
including the right to privacy. Some other Articles may also be considered
relevant depending on the circumstances of the case. But till date, no such law
on protecting right of the anonymity has been enacted so far by the legislature
nor judiciary has specifically guaranteed such rights in any judgement. under
the Constitution of India shall extend to such disguised citizen of the country
who does not want to unveil the anonymity or the person is bound to disclose his
real name without which such fundamental freedoms could not be extended to
The researcher, in this paper, has made an attempt to trace out the tremendous
impact of the involvement of such inalienable social media in every stretch of
life, whether social, educational, moral, cultural, political and economic,
health etc.. An attempt has also been made to trace out the right of anonymity
to enjoy the freedom to place one's own view publicly in connection on the
public issues under the veil of anonymity in the light of the Constitutional
provisions taking into consideration the existing international instruments
which dealt with on such rights. Further, the exercise of the freedom of
expression on the social media by anonymity would not be possible without taking
into consideration the right to privacy.
Whether anonymity is permissible and
safeguarded under the umbrella of the fundamental right to privacy, a part of
life and personal liberty guaranteed under the Constitution of India under which
fundamental freedom of speech and expression could properly be enjoyed avoiding
the consequence of social trolling without risking one's own life and the lives
of his family members.
II. Social Media And Its Impact On Different Aspects Of Social Life
Social media refers to websites and applications that are designed to allow
people to share content quickly, efficiently, and in real-time. Social media
by the way of being social is composed of society or persons interacting with
each other. Social media is one of the most revolutionary inventions of the
recent times the world has witnessed and India with no exceptions was part of
it. Social media may be considered as a society, e-society, where and individual
come into contact with other through this media to create a social relationship.
The social media had has a long impact in India in all aspects of life and the
people, especially the Gen-Y and Gen-Z are the major group who are more
comfortable in this media rather than actual social life.
The importance of
social media, time and again, found its actual recognition in India in the
recent times, when, it is once again pioneered by our Prime Minister Narendra
Modi introducing the concept of digital India with a view digitised India in all
respect be it, education, commerce, industry including IT industries, in almost
every field the world is witnessing how India is digitally growing, the benefit
of which could seen in the recent future with or without Prime Minister Narendra
Modi. Although he considered it as such with a view to build political image
worldwide but its importance with reference to other fields (social, cultural,
economic, education etc.) with which the life of people is interwoven, cannot be
Sharing information through social media is imperative to accomplish
digital citizenship which undeniably opened fresh avenues to share and spread
information and knowledge and services, to more and more people in short span of
time that too at nominal cost. It has emerged as vital convenience means of
communication and has shaped new ways of mobilising public opinion and cheering
them on whatever may the issues connected with the particular field of interest
that affects the mankind. As the social media has become an important tool of
self-expression, it has made an effective impact in intrapersonal, interpersonal
and mass communications. If there exist a conflicting of interest resort may
have of any of the media (Facebook, Tweeter, YouTube, Instagram, Whatsapp etc.)
to resolve such conflicting issues on the basis of democratic way of
participation where majority consensus are being followed. That is why social
media is considered as an important interactive platform through which
individuals and communities split, co-create, confer, and modify user-generated
III. Concept Of Anonymity And Its Usefulness In The Social Media
Anonymity allows the individual to have a voice without disclosing a name or a
name which is pseudonym. On the other hand, it is writing online under a name
that is not linked to one's own civil identity, including having no name at all.
It can thus also mean writing under a pseudonym. The foremost reason for being
anonymous is to promote freedom of expression, enabling the free flow of
information, enhancing therapeutic disinhibition, and fostering an atmosphere
where ideas are judged on merit without violating the privacy of the anonymous.
Social media on the other hand, has provided with a democratic tool in the hands
of the people in organising different types of movements which have made a far
reaching impact in the social, political, economic, health, education, etc.
touching almost in all the fields where the interest of the common people are
involved, changing the social scenario whenever a need of transformation in
social sector arises.
It is through the social medias, the countries of the
world including India has witnessed different successful movements, from Anna Hazare to Hokkolorob to Hashtag to Occupy Wall Street to the sensational
Delhi's Nirbhaya rape case,
all based on public opinion that have such a
tremendous and revolutionary effect where the adversaries were made bound to
suppress their respective opinion against the mass opinion. In addition to the
above, the impacts can also be seen across social issues such as public health
(including maternal health and child behavior); gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB)
identity; and climate change. Targeted, well-executed media campaigns reach
audiences via a medium they pay attention to, leading to increased knowledge and
changes in behavior.
Internet users in general and social network application users in particular are
vulnerable to numerous personal information leakages. Therefore, the concept of
anonymity on Internet, which has been introduced in recent years to help
Internet users protect their privacy from getting disclosed, is quite
important. This is also important from the e-commerce point of view. Every
day there are numerous cases and we became used to of hearing the cases of
leaking of personal information such as e-mail addresses or debit/credit care
information which is required for most electronic transactions.
Specific privacy concerns in this realm include use of customers' information by
companies for electronic surveillance (e.g., cookies
), email solicitation (e.g.,
data transfer (e.g., when customer database information is sold to third parties
or stolen) resulting in identity or credit card theft. This lead to victimisation, and to overcome this, more and more emphasise must be given on
the anonymous communication and thereby help in protecting people's right to
online privacy and also the freedom of speech and expression reducing the
possibility of getting trolled or harassment or embarrassment and finally free
This is the positive aspect of anonymity. The negative consequences include lack
of accountability and credibility, nondisclosure, and deindividuation. It
can also lead to aggression and anti-social behaviour. In the United States,
anonymity has been viewed as a way to encourage freedom of expression as
guaranteed by the First Amendment. It enables one to voice unpopular views
without fear of retribution, especially in public or political matters.
Anonymity is seen as being even more precious in repressive regimes or for those
in the minority.
Anonymity is considered significant in recent years for several reasons:
- It allows individuals to explore themselves in the field of social
- It helps in developing social skills that can discourse with less fear
of stigma, embarrassment or reprisal.
- It also helps in promoting freedom of expression freely, unequivocally.
- The uncovering of a factual situation without any harmful effect to the
anonymous but beneficial to the mankind.
- It involves one's ability to exert boundary control maintaining and
protecting the right to privacy.
- Maintain individual autonomy which involves the chance to experiment
with new behaviors without fear of social consequences.
Anonymity is maintained on the Internet through a variety of formal and informal
mechanisms. Formal mechanisms include trusted intermediaries such as anonymous
remailers and anonymous electronic cash or escrow accounts. To a lesser degree,
anonymity can be maintained through informal means such as the use of names or
handles that cannot be linked to an individual.
One of the earliest
anonymous social media forums was 2channel, which was first introduced online on
May 30, 1999, as a Japanese text board forum. Apps such as Formspring (also
known as spring.me), Ask, Sarahah, Whisper, and Secret have elicited discussion
around the rising popularity of anonymity apps, including debate and
anticipation about this social sharing class. The above apps are mainly used
for cyber-bullying and for personal defamation resulting in teen suicides as a
result of cyber-bullying.
The other apps such as, Yik Yak, Secret etc. have
either been shut down or blocked due to escalating number of cyber-bullying.
Apps like After.School has been removed from the Apple and Google app stores.
However, Anonymous apps such a Chrends take the approach of using anonymity to
provide freedom of speech.
IV. Anonymity On Social Media: A Shield Of Privacy And A Gateway To Freedom
Of Speech And Expression Under The Legal Regime
Privacy and expression are oxymoronic. While privacy requires
secrecy, expression entails publicity, and this inevitably leads to
friction. Anonymity has been recognised for the important role it plays in
safeguarding and advancing privacy, free expression, political accountability,
public participation and debate.
Although evolution of new technology such
as gait recognition technology, global positioning systems, RFID tags, and video
surveillance act as a threat to the anonymity making it possible to locate,
track and identify individuals behind the mask, there is a need to bring such
group of anonymous people to provide protection under the law. The right to
speak freely irrespective of the media would be violated if without checking the
genunity of the statement of the maker, an adverse step is taken.
The need for
anonymity online in India can be understood from an incident that shook the
country when in Uttar Pradesh Jagendra Singh, a responsible citizen
was burnt alive allegedly by Uttar Pradesh Minister Ram Murti Singh Verma, for
posting messages on Facebook against the minister regarding his alleged
involvement in illegal mining and land grabbing
Had the deceased name not
been disclosed, his life could have been safeguarded and after proper
investigation of the matter, appropriate measure would possibly be taken.
Therefore, the question is whether Constitution of India and the existing legal
framework extended sufficient protective umbrella under which the freedom of
expression and privacy right under the anonymity could be freely enjoyed? Before
dealing with the legal regime of anonymity right on social media in India, let
us have a look in some international instruments which could be instrumental in
protecting such right under the law.
IV. I Position Under International Instruments
Different international conventions convened in different times throughout the
world, highlighted the importance of some basic, inherent and inalienable human
rights including the above mentioned two rights without which life is
meaningless. Freedom of speech and expression and the right to privacy are
indispensable and so interrelated to each other that sometimes to speak
legitimately (subject to reasonable restriction), the protection of the privacy
in the name of anonymity is obvious otherwise the maker of the legitimate speech
would come under the bad book resulting in taking away by the government, such
rights in the name of imposing reasonable restriction clause amounting to
unprecedented harassments and reprisal.
To avoid such harassments, it is,
therefore, necessary to use the shield of anonymity under which an individual
would have the courage to speak legitimately which is important to run the wheel
of democracy beneficial to the society as a whole without which an individual is
like a warrior without a sword meant to surrender without falling into fight.
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) enshrines the
right to freedom of opinion and expression, which includes the right to seek,
receive and impart information and ideas through any media. Despite the UDHR
there are numerical Articles under different international instruments in
which specific provisions have been laid down on the above said two rights. The
right to social media anonymity has so far received limited recognition under
Traditionally, the protection of social media anonymity has
been linked to the protection of the right to privacy and personal data. In May
2015, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights published its report on encryption and anonymity in
the digital age highlighting that an open and secure internet should be counted
among the prerequisites for the enjoyment of freedom of expression today, and
must therefore be protected by governments.
Encryption and anonymity must be
strongly protected and promoted because they provide the privacy and security
necessary for the meaningful exercise of the right to freedom of expression and
opinion in the digital age. On the other hand, the 2013 report of the
Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression highlighted the important
relationship between the rights to privacy and freedom of expression in
cyberspace. The report also observed that restrictions to anonymity
facilitate states' communications surveillance and have a chilling effect on the
free expression of information and ideas.
Despite imposing reasonable restrictions, there are certain rights which are
impermissible in the sense that they are not subject to any restriction of any
kind. As stipulated in UN Human Rights Council resolution 12/16,129 these
include: discussion of government policies and political debate; reporting on
human rights, government activities and corruption; engaging in election
campaigns, peaceful demonstrations or political activities, including for peace
or democracy; and the expression of opinion and dissent, religion or belief,
including by persons belonging to minorities or vulnerable groups.
IV. II Position In India
In India, the right to freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed under
Article 19(1)(a) and the right to privacy has been finally included under
Article 21 within the scope of life and personal liberty of the
Constitution of India. In Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) v. Union of
, an interesting question had raised by the Nine Judge
Constitution bench that if right to privacy could be so pervasive that a person
would be allowed to remain anonymous.
Can an individual assert his right to be
A fundamental question before us is about to what extent an
individual can say that he has a right to remain anonymous. To what extent you
can assert your right to privacy to suppress your identity,” asked Justice Chandrachud.
However, as in the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, freedom of expression in India is not absolute; Article 19(2) sets
out certain criteria for the reasonable restriction of freedom of expression.
These criteria have been applied for offline media for decades, shaping India's
jurisprudence on freedom of speech and expression and extended to the online
communications as well.
If in the name of imposing reasonable restrictions, the
freedom of expression is arbitrarily taken away at the hand of the government,
then how it would be possible for the citizen of India to enjoy it living in a
democracy because democracy virtually demands to speak freely without any fear
of reprisal. Hence, to protect and safeguard one's own interest the veil of
anonymity is obvious. This is because democracy virtually demands anonymity. The
importance of protecting anonymous speech in a democracy was perhaps best stated
by the US Supreme Court in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission Anonymity
is a shield from the tyranny of the majority,
” Justice John Paul.
ways article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India mirrors the US Constitution's
First Amendment. While these rights were originally intended to be offline
rights, they have since been extended to other media including the online space
through judicial pronouncements.
For instance, in People's Union for Civil
Liberties v. Union of India
, the Supreme Court extended the right to privacy
to telephonic communications, in a case that concerned wiretapping and
interception of communications. Similarly, in Shreya Singhal v. Union of
, the Supreme Court recognized that freedom of speech and expression
are integral to the internet, where access to and publication of information
require this fundamental right.
So far as the law is concerned, In India, till today no specific law relating to
the anonymity right that has been enacted by the legislature. In the absence of
specific laws, resort may have of the existing general laws under which the
protection of the anonymity right on social media could be considered. Apart
from the Information Technology Act, 2000, Indian Penal Code, 1860 may be
referred for handling the aspect of the anonymity rights. The Information
Technology Act, 2000, instead of protecting the right of anonymity provides
provision for punishment under Section 67, for publishing or transmitting
obscene material in electronic form with the imprisonment upto five years and
with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.
Whereas, under Sections 69 and
69A the government has been empowered to intercept, monitor and block websites
for public access for preserving public order and preventing incitement which is
an exercise of the power of imposing of reasonable restriction provided under
Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India. Besides, Section 463, 464,
468 and 469 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 read with Section 66 of
the Information Technology Act, 2000 may be resorted to having connection with
forgery, making of false document, forgery for the purpose of cheating or
harming reputation both on online and offline media.
354 A and B, 499 and 509 all are important Sections that is to be
applicable to the anonymous if anything publishes are subject to above Sections
and if proved such act would be punishable as described under the Indian Penal
Code, 1860. Special mention should be made of Section 507which specifically
deals with criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication. A perusal of the
above Sections revealed that there is the dearth of legislative framework for
the protection of the anonymity rights on social media.
Recently, the Government
has introduced a Bill in the name of Personal Data Protection Bill for the
social media which raises a cause of concern allegedly incorporating the
provisions relating to governmental access to citizen's data which is
significantly differs from the one proposed by the Justice Srikrishna Committee
and is according to Justice Srikrishna (Retd.) dangerous and capable of creating
‘an Orwellian state'. It is alleged that instead of protecting the right of
the anonymous, the new rule will rather take it. The new rules will apply to all
'social media and messaging' companies. India already has several restrictive
internet-related laws in place, but this one is arguably the worst of them
Therefore, enacting specific law to protect the anonymous from the arbitrary
action of the government and also from the common people, who, without
justifying the publication of any statement made by the anonymous, keep trolling
the author to face any untoward incidents including the taking away of the life.
However, there might be circumstances where the state can lawfully intervene to
force someone to come out of a cloak of anonymity in the interest of the
country, there is a belief that such powers could be exploited to protect the
private interests of government. Therefore, drawing a proper balance, between
protecting anonymity and fighting abusive trolls, becomes a tricky exercise.
The state could demand compromised anonymity because it perceives a crime
in someone tweeting threats, sure, but also if it chooses to perceive a crime
someone criticising a ruling party, expressing homosexuality, political dissent,
or any of an array of inconvenient national truths,” Rega Jha, the editor of
BuzzFeed India once told It feels like if this power exists, anonymity
wouldn't serve its noblest purpose in a democracy anymore – allowing citizens to
express the important truths that are dangerous to voice with a name and face
The widespread availability of high-speed internet has changed the traditional
mode of communication from face-to-face communication to a virtual
communication. Out of the various modes of communications, social media
platforms are meant to be an extension of our real-world identities, providing
an opportunity of anonymity for people who need it the most.
section of people are of the opinion that people should have enough conviction
in expressing freely on what they truly believe and there is no need to hide or
keep oneself behind the veil forgetting the far reaching consequences of
so-called truth that might jeopardise the life of the maker of the statement,
however, it is a matter of debate and irrespective of the disagreements, the
technology for anonymity on the social media is available and that a definite
vacuum is being filled by anonymity services. Several States enjoy long
traditions of celebrating anonymity in their political cultures, but very few
provide general protection in law for anonymous expression such as United States
and United Kingdom and European Union.
The decision of the apex court of some of
the countries has also extended protection to the social media anonymity right.
For example, the Supreme Court of Canada recently struck down the warrantless
acquisition of anonymous user identity online. The Constitutional Court of the
Republic of Korea struck down anti-anonymity laws as unconstitutional. The
Supreme Court of the United States has consistently protected the right to
The European Court of Human Rights has recognized
anonymity as important to the freedom of expression but permits limitations in
cases where necessary to achieve legitimate objectives. Therefore, it is
highly expected that the legislature of India shall enact laws recognising and
protecting the right to anonymous speech, right to read anonymously and right to
browse online anonymously subject, of course, to the genuinity of interest of
Any restriction on anonymity and encryption must fully comply with
the three part test of restrictions to freedom of expression and should be
subject to strong procedural safeguards:
- States and companies should promote the use of tools such as Tor and
https:// protocols that allow encrypted browsing;
- States should recognise in their legislation and practices that
encryption is a basic requirement for the protection of the confidentiality and
security of information and that, as such, it is essential to the protection of
the right to freedom of expression online;
- States should repeal laws or refrain from adopting laws requiring
government authorisation for the use of encrypted products.
- With over 560 million internet users, India is the second largest online
market in the world, ranked only behind China and by 2021, there will be
over 600 million internet users in India, available at: https://www.statista.com/topics/2157/internet-usage-in-india/ (Last
visited on April 30, 2020).
- According to Statista Research Department, the data published on
March,31, 2020 upto 2017, 34 % of the total Indian population could avail
the accessibility of internet, available at: https://www.statista.com/topics/2157/internet-usage-in-india/ (Last
visited on April 30, 2020).
- As per the Cambridge English Dictionary, Anonymity is the situation in
which someone's name is not given or known.
- Mathew Hudson, Small Business”, available at: https://www.thebalancesmb.com/what-is-social-media-2890301 (Last
visited on May 2, 2020).
- Sumit Chaturvedi and Dr. Sachin Gupta, Social Media Promotions- Can We
Restrict It Under Law?”, 1(1) International Journal of Research-Granthaalayah
at pp. 43-50, (2014), available at: http://granthaalayah.com/Articles/Vol1Iss1/06_IJRG14_A08_11.pdf
(last visited May 3, 2020).
- Although anonymity and pseudonym have different connotation but for this
article, both the terms have been considered as same.
- Let there be clamour. It started in September 2014 as a series of
Jadavpur University students' protests against the problematic handling of a
reported case of sexual molestation on campus on 28 August 2014, and against
the subsequent police attack on peacefully agitating students, quickly went
viral and erupted into a massive movement. The student protests spiralled
into ‘#hokkolorob' within exactly three days and it took on the dimensions
of a global protest.
- Media Development's role in Social, Economic, and Political progress,
Media Development Investment Fund, available at: https://www.mdif.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Media-Developments-Role-in-Social-Economic-and-Political-Progress-Literature-Review.pdf (Last
visited on May 3, 2020).
- Hoang Nguyen Phong and Pishva Davar, Anonymous Communication and its
Importance in Social Networking,” ICACT Feb. 16-19, 2014 at p. 37 available
at: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.669.2707&rep=rep1&type=pdf (Last
visited on May 3, 2020).
- Ibid at p.34.
- Maureen Weicher, [Name Withheld]: Anonymity and Its Implications,”
available at: http://eprints.rclis.org/8768/1/Weicher_Name.pdf (Last visited
on May 2, 2020)
- Anonymous Social Media, Wikipedia Free encyclopedia, available
at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymous_social_media (Last visited on
May 4, 2020).
- Kelly Heather, "Anonymous social apps provide forum for gripes,
gossip", CNN.Feb 28, 2014, available at: https://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/28/tech/social-media/secret-social-apps/ (Last
visited on May 4, 2020).
- Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/want-freedom-of-speech-theres-an-app-for-that-9650215.html (Last
visited on May 4, 2020).
- Althaf Marsoof, Online Social Networking and Right to Privacy: The
Conflicting Rights of Privacy and Expression”, Vol. 19 (2), May, 2011, at p.
110, available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/220209791_Online_Social_Networking_and_the_Right_to_Privacy_The_Conflicting_Rights_of_Privacy_and_Expression (Last
visited on May 9, 2020).
- David Kaye, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and
protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression”, Human Right
Council, at p. 16, May 22, 2015.
- Journalist Burnt Alive, UP Minister, Cop Charged, June 10,
2015,available at: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Journalist-burnt-alive-UP-minister-cops-charged/articleshow/47607739.cms (Last
visited on May 5, 2020).
- Article 19 of the UDHR states that Everyone has the right to freedom
of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions
without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas
through any media and regardless of frontiers”.
- Katitza Rodriguez, Freedom of Expression, Privacy and Anonymity on the
Internet,” Comments submitted to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on
the promotion and protection of the right to Freedom of Opinion and
Expression January 2011, at p. 13, available at: https://www.eff.org/files/filenode/unspecialrapporteurfoe20
11-final_3.pdf (last visited on May 5, 2020).
- Such as International Covenant on Civil and political Rights, 1966,
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966,
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination, 1965, Convention on the Rights of the Child, International
Convention on the Protection of All Migrant Workers and Members of their
Families, American Convention on Human Rights, European Convention Human
Rights, 1950, African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, 1980 and Arab
Charter of Human Rights, 2004.
- Supra Note 18, paras 12,16 and 56.
- UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to
freedom of opinion and expression, A/HRC/23/40, April 17, 2013, para 47.
- Ibid. paras 48-49.
- Supra note 25, at p. 38.
- Article 19 (1) provides that all citizens shall have the right to
freedom of speech and expression, to assemble peaceably and without arms, to
form associations or unions, to move freely throughout the territory of
India, to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India and to
practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business
- Article 21 of the Constitution of India states that No person shall be
deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure
established by law.”
- (2017) 10 SCC 1
- Clause 2 of Article 19 states that in the … interests of the
sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly
relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in
relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.”
- State of the Internet in Asia: The Case of India, Malaysia and Pakistan,
APC-Impact, Project Summary Report, 2014-17, at p. 58 available at: https://www.apc.org/sites/default/files/StateOfTheInternetInAsia.pdf (Last
visited on May 4, 2020).
- 514 US 224, 1995.
- Suhrith Parthasarathy, Naming Names: India Has Promised to Crackdown on
Online Trolls, But the Right to Anonymity is also Threatened,” Reuter,
September 20, 2016, at p. 19, available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0306422016670331 (Last
visited on May 6, 2020).
- (1997) 1 SCC 301.
- (2013) 12 SCC 73.
- Section 463 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (45 of 1860) defines
Forgery” as whoever makes any….. false electronic records with intent to
cause damage or injury to public or any persons…….. with the intent to
commit any fraud, ….. commits forgery
- Section 464 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (45 of 1860): Making of False
Document: a person is said to make a false electronic record who dishonestly
and fraudulently…… transmit or alter any electronic records……. with the
intention of causing it to be that such electronic record was made by the
authority of person by whom he knows .
- Section 468 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (45 of 1860) Forgery for Purpose
of Cheating: whoever commits forgery, intending that the electronic record
used for the purpose of cheating shall be punished with imprisonment of
either description for the term which may be extent to seven years and shall
also be liable to fine
- Section 469 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (45 of 1860) Forgery for Purpose
of Harming Reputation: whoever commits forgery…. intending that the
electronic records forged shall harm the reputation shall be punished with
imprisonment of description for a term which may extend to three years and
shall also be liable to fine
- Section 66 of The Information Technology Act, 2000 (21 of 2000)
Computer related offences: if any persons dishonestly or fraudulently does
any act referred to in section 43 shall be punished with imprisonment for a
term which may extent to three years or with fine which may extend to five
lakh rupees or both .
- Section 354A of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (45 of 1860) Sexual harassment
and punishment for sexual harassment: any act which…….., demand or request
for sexual favours or showing pornography against the will of a women or
making sexual coloured remarks shall be guilty of the offence of sexual
harassment and punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may
extend to three years or with fine or both. Here sadly no punishment has
been prescribed for making sexual coloured remarks . And Section 354 B deal
with Assault or use of criminal force to women with intent to
disrobe”….shall be punished for the term of three to seven years along with
- Section 499 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (45 of 1860)” Defamation: whoever
by words either spoken or intended to be read……make or publishes any
imputation concerning any person intending to harm, the reputation of such
person, is said to defame the person .
- Section 509 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (45 of 1860) Word, Gesture or
act intended to insult the modesty of a women: whoever intending to insult
the modesty of any women, utters any word, make any sound or gesture or
exhibits any object shall be seen by such women or intrudes upon the privacy
of such women shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which
may extend to three years and also with fine
- Section 507 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (45 of 1860) states that Whoever
commits the offence of criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication,
or having taken precaution to conceal the name or abode of the person from
whom the threat comes, shall be punished with imprisonment of either
description for a term which may extend to two years, in addition to the
punishment provided for the offence by the last preceding section”.
- India's Privacy Bill will Alter How it Regulates Social Media
Platforms, Not all of it Good”, The Wire, February 21, 2020, available
at: https://thewire.in/tech/indias-privacy-bill-regulates-social-media-platforms (Last
visited on May 9, 2020).
- Anil Satyanarayana, Indian Social Media Users Risk Losing Online
Anonymity amid Controversial Law,” Notebook Check, February 13, 2020,
available at: https://www.notebookcheck.net/Indian-social-media-users-risk-losing-online-anonymity-amid-controversial-law.453831.0.html (Last
visited on May 10, 2020).
- Supra note 32.
- Supra note 18.
- Right to Online Anonymity, June 2015, available
at: https://www.article19.org/data/files/medialibrary/38006/Anonymity_and_encryption_report_A5_final-web.pdf (Last
visited on May 10, 2020).
Written By: Dr. Dipankar Debnath, Assistant Professor-in-Law,
Department of Law, University of North Bengal, also available at [email protected]