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Necessity of Censorship of Internet?

"When you tear out a men's tongue, you are not proving him a liar,
You're only telling the world that you fear what he might say"

In this article, I talked about various aspects of Internet Censorship in India including its pros and cons for society and also some of the basic recommendations for the government to implement while planning about this step.

This is the act of Banning or Blocking some or all content that can be published, viewed, and accessed online. Sectors that can implement this ban can include governments, private sectors, and individuals with a common goal to control what people can read and post on the World Wide Web. Some countries impose direct censorship, others have stringent policies against unlawful posting online while there are countries that are somewhat lenient with videos going viral [1].

In the present time, changing measures of innocence and moral standards have led to a rapid paradigm shift in the status of the world [2]. The Society at large has now grown into a global village.

Your one statement, one opinion, or maybe one expression on social media shall echo to the whole world, no matter how far you are sitting in any corner of India. The upshot of the globalization era has filled every loophole that was hindering the comprehensive connectivity amongst the nations [3].

The Term censor was initially introduced in the ancient Roman Empire [4]. According to the Etymological Dictionary, Censere is a Latin word that means to appraise, value or Judge. Censorship was an official duty and censor was a title given to a public official in the Roman Government [5].

Arguments In Favour Of Internet Censorship

  1. It Will Keep Children From Being Victims Of Sex Trafficking And Pornography.

    Proponents of controlling content on the internet declare that innocent kids who grow to be prey to predators waiting to engage young kids in child pornography and other malicious acts that can be made viable by using the net are given protection. With this, violators will be punished and lesser teenagers will be victims [6
  2. It Helps In Strengthening National Security.

    By implementing laws towards hacking and imposing hefty punishment on violators, country-wide protection can be preserved. Without any structure of censorship, it will be not possible to maintain terrible factors and terrorists from getting access to data that will pose a hazard to the protection of the nation.
  3. It Can Control Illegal Activities.

    Supporters declare that regulating content material in the net is a tremendous way to lessen if not absolutely deter illegal activities due to the fact it keeps people from merchandising malicious content material which can without problems impact others if no guidelines are imposed.
  4. It Lessens The Incidents Of Identity Theft.

    Advocates for web censorship say that via limiting what statistics is accessed in the internet, non-public facts will not be without difficulty accessed. By using anti-phishing software, which serves as a form of net censorship considering that it warns the person that a kind of software is attempting to get access, it offers the person the risk to keep hackers and companies from getting pertinent information
  5. Parents Cannot Be There Always To Watch Out For Their Kids.

    Proponents of internet censorship factor out that mother and father have the responsibility to instruct teens about morality and guide them on what is desirable or bad but the reality is, they additionally have to earn a dwelling to furnish for their kids. They do now not have the potential to be on watch on most parts of the day.
  6. A Free Society Should Be Able To Set Limits.

    Some journalists who suggest web censorship hold that even if there is freedom of speech and expression, there shouldn't be absolute freedom. If there is no censorship of any kind, some individuals can be victims of cyberbullying and racist speech which should now not be the case. These practices should not be allowed in cyberspace.
  7. IT Stops Fake News.

    Claims of pretend information expanded dramatically in 2017. Fake news websites promote false reports for cash through clicks due to the fact readers suppose the news is real. Internet censorship would supply some other degree of discernment which should perhaps end divisive incidents that are based on occasions that by no means occurred [7].
  8. IT Creates The Chance To Set Common-Sense Limits.

    Some matters just aren't part of what a society would deem to be healthy. A simple search right now on an unfiltered public search can supply all people with getting entry to several movies that purport to show real murders in progress. High-profile cases, such as the murders of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, have been broadcast on-air and then a first-person video of the match made its way through social circles afterward. Restricting this content sets a commonsense restriction on the content material that can be viewed.
  9. Censorship Can Reduce The Impact Of Hate Speech In Society.

    The concept that all speech is equal is arguably false. There are phrases those human beings use as an effort to shut down the proper to talk of others. It took over a century for minorities and girls to obtain a semblance of equal rights because of the presence of hate speech. Even if it is clothed in the ideas of religious freedom, state's rights, or patriotism, that doesn't change what it is to others.
    Censorship gives us the possibility to stop this hate before it can get started. We already stay within the confines of education, family, entertainment, commerce, and more. This limiting manner creates more opportunities for equality [8].
  10. Censorship Protects The Rights Of Artists, Innovators, And Inventors.

    Did you comprehend that copyright legal guidelines are a shape of censorship? The same is stated for patents and any other prison assemble that offers anyone distinct gets entry to a unique form of content or work barring permitting others to do the same. We have these protections in the region to defend the creation rights of the first individual who pursued this idea.
    Preventing plagiarism and IP theft gives us the foundation of an economy. If your work doesn't receive some level of protection, then it can be stolen through someone who can put it together more cost-effectively than you. Small groups get to stay aggressive due to the fact of the perfect factors of censorship that we hold in society.

Arguments Against Internet Censorship:

  1. It Removes The Freedom Of Expression And Deprives People Of Learning The Truth.

    Opponents of internet censorship argue that with the aid of making this a law, freedom of the press, expression, and speech is killed and is a violation of the First Amendment, which consists of the prohibition of making a law that infringes freedom of the press and speech, amongst others. For them, censorship will be a violation of this amendment. Moreover, if people are now not given the probability to learn the truth, this can lead to ignorance [9]
  2. It Can Be Used By The Government To Keep Pertinent Information From Its Citizens.

    Critics also say that by implementing a law on internet censorship, abusive government officials will get away with their wrong practices such as abuse of corruption and power. A government leader, for example, can ban the launch of videos and online content proving his or her illegal activities via imposing information blackout. They also declare that dictators can use this to solely publish photos and stories that will work for their non-public attain and now not of his or her constituents.
  3. It Is An Added Expense To The Government.

    People who are now not in the choice of censoring the net argue that to put into effect censorship and ensure all areas are protected the government desires to invest in equipment, manpower, and other costs. Aside from upfront expenses, there are also added costs for upkeep and monitoring. And with the strength of the net and its coverage, it is not possible to be on display 24/7 and no longer spend for it.
  4. It Can Harm Businesses.

    Critics of net censorship say that there are agencies that count on the internet to advertise their services and products. Banning their websites to be accessed through consumers of criminal age will harm the sales and profit of these companies. If censorship is implemented, these corporations will not be able to reach their global market.
  5. People Can Practice Self-Autonomy.

    Some corporations that oppose censorship argue that men and women can have manipulated what to see and read, making it beside the point to have a regulation banning content material online. They additionally add that parents should take a greater effort to monitor what their kids are searching online and this is a phase of their responsibilities as parents.
  6. Who Watches The Watchers?

    Even if web censorship is at once supervised and ethically maintained, anyone someplace is figuring out what is appropriate and what is not proper for society to see online. At some level, anybody does no longer has everybody to whom they report regarding their censorship decisions. With that variety of power, one person ought to impact society in anything way they chose except consequence [10].
  7. IT Shifts Where Responsibilities Lie.

    If the authorities are dictating what men and women can see online, then human beings are no longer responsible for the choices they make. It cedes that control over to the government. Once that control is ceded, it becomes easier to cede more control over responsibility because the action was normalized.[11]

Censorship In India

The issue of censorship has worried citizens, free speech supporters, civil rights organizations, and libertarian organizational over the world. It is also widely debated and discussed in India, where governments over the years have tried to censor free speech and the free flow of information. The right to freedom of speech and expression, which is a fundamental right under part 3, Article 19(1)(a) of the constitution, has been upheld as a basic right by the supreme court of India in various judgments [12].

Under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, the right to freedom of Speech and Expression is a fundamental right. In the same article, the application of reasonable restrictions is also mentioned. The freedom to the medium of expression is still in the hands of the dominating regime.

The Status of India's overall internet freedom as Partly Free has not been changed since 2009. Information Technology Act with its amendments in 2008 has turned out to be a totalitarian law. These stringent laws such as 66-A (repealed by Shreya Singhal v. UOI [13]), section 69-B have directly attacked the provisions defined in Article 19 of the Indian Constitution.[14]

The Vinay Rai Case

Amidst the din of censorship of the Internet, intermediaries like Facebook, Google, and other companies faced a sparkling jolt when Vinay Rai, editor of a Delhi-based Urdu newspaper Akbari, filed a case against them in December 2011 for permitting objectionable content material up on their sites. Rai has submitted examples of what he deems as offensive content towards a range of religions and religious figures that he located on the websites of these companies.

However, Rai selected now not to interact with the websites regarding this issue. He noted that the authorities are the closing authority to deal with multinationals in things like these. Indian Penal Code has strict provisions in opposition to the promotion of religious enmity in the use of an inclusive of Sec 153 (B), Section 298 amongst others.

Even as Google and Facebook have argued that they are now not legally responsible for the content material uploaded by the users, matters don't look rosy, thanks to the cyber laws in India. The outcome of the case is nonetheless pending considering the case is nonetheless with the Delhi High Court.

Vijaya Shankar added:
Vinay Rai appears to have filed a case towards content material that can hurt non-secular sentiments of the people. There are some strong provisions in the law towards hurting religious sentiments. The sole concern I have is that the courtroom ought to make it clear that the judgment is for this particular case by myself and that the outcome of the case has to no longer be considered as a precedent. There is a big issue of public pastime in this issue. It has a hazard of being misinterpreted as a precedent which will affect our freedom of expression. [15]


For Lawyers:

Lawyers often matter on criminal authorities like legislation and case regulation to prove their client's case. However, this may additionally not be sufficient for litigation related to Internet censorship, which often entails complicated technical issues that may be past the grasp of many judges.

For instance, if a courtroom is anticipated to decide if 2G velocity constitutes fine Internet get admission to in 2020, technical evidence must be produced which surely demonstrates the have an impact on of 2G v. 4G on web performance. Similarly, to explain the significance of the Internet as an indispensable infrastructure that enables no longer merely speech, however also get entry into healthcare, education, change, and business, it is necessary to produce memories of real humans affected by Internet restrictions and statistical evidence quantifying the losses suffered by using them.

For this purpose, legal professionals working on instances difficult Internet restrictions ought to collaborate with technologists, economists, journalists, and nearby activists to make sure that the harm brought about via Internet restrictions is undeniably validated before a court. This is especially applicable considering that authorities routinely deny any unfavorable impact of Internet restrictions, and except concrete data and figures are produced to task this narrative, courts may additionally accept the government's claims at face value.

Incrementalism and Iteration:
Litigation difficult Internet restrictions may also no longer supply immediate major comfort due to the fact court docket instances can drag on for a long time and judges may be reluctant to intervene if country-wide security interests are invoked through the government.

However, even in such circumstances, incremental enhancement in the fame quo is possible and the risk of litigation can additionally nudge authorities to at least comply with the letter of the law if no longer its spirit. This sort of incrementalism, when blended with strategically deliberate future interventions, can provide significant relief to people affected through Internet shutdowns and website blocking. For instance, whilst a lot stays to be done, 4G mobile Internet used to be finally restored in at least two out of 20 districts of Jammu & Kashmir on 16 August 2020 after three successive rounds of litigation before the Supreme Court, which first started with the complete conversation shut down on 05 August 2019.

For Civil Society Organizations:

As we observed via the case studies, it can be hard for human beings to determine if provider disruptions have been ordered with the aid of the authorities or if they are caused by technical errors. This hassle is in particular acute in the context of internet site blocking, which is inconsistently applied and the latest research suggests that only 27.64% of blocked websites are uniformly blocked with the aid of all six foremost Indian ISPs.

In these circumstances, the improvement and use of size equipment like the Open Observatory of Network Testing (OONI) probes are imperative to get a correct and entire picture of Internet censorship in India. Fortunately, efforts are already being made in this direction, and researchers have used the OONI probe to test and evaluate website blocking in one-of-a-kind states of India and to increase their own dimension tools.

Governmental Engagement:
Our case research revealed that in many instances, Internet restrictions have been ordered through authorities' officers in response to credible threats of large-scale violence alongside the traces of religion or caste. India has witnessed quite a few devastating communal riots considering its independence in 1947, leaving lots lifeless or displaced. Therefore, the issues of neighborhood authority officers who are expected to control violent and unruly mobs can't be pushed aside lightly.

It is integral for civil society businesses who are familiar with empirical research on the effectiveness of Internet shutdowns to engage with authority's officers to explain how Internet restrictions can without a doubt incentivize violent protests which require less communication and coordination than peaceable demonstrations.

It is also vital to work with government officers to spotlight how technological know-how can be used to diffuse tensions by debunking rumors and supplying correct information. Finally, there is a want for more empirical research about each high quality and terrible use of the Internet for the duration of communal riots in one-of-a-kind components of India seeing that the Internet also performs a function in the documentation of atrocities and reality checking, which cannot be ignored.

For Information And Communication Technology (ICT) Companies:

Our conversation with an Internet service provider printed that due to hard license stipulations and harsh penalties, groups do now not have tons scope to push again against government requests.

The interviewee noted that even if what used to be being sought via the authorities was practically infeasible, ISPs would still affirm compliance because as they vividly put it: The license prerequisites make the Department of Telecommunications a God-like determine for ISPs. The agencies additionally concern that they may additionally now not get hold of protection from the judicial department if they undertaking the government's moves due to the fact recently, the Indian Supreme Court has come down very severely on the telecom enterprise by way of interpreting present legal provisions in a manner that threatens these groups with the aid of requiring them to pay big sums of money within a short duration of time.

Even in democratic nations like India, certain areas may also be unusually tough to function in due to geo-political reasons. For instance, in Jammu & Kashmir, telecom carrier carriers have to comply with extra purchaser verification requirements for pre-paid subscribers and until these requirements are fulfilled, pre-paid subscribers can't be allowed even 2G cell Internet access.

While working in such regions, it is very essential for corporations to be touchy to hardships being skilled by the nearby population and to supply them terrific concessions. For instance, when voice call offerings had been restored in Jammu & Kashmir in October 2019, Airtel, which has the largest subscriber base in the region, agreed to waive off post-paid condominium fees for the duration during which these offerings were suspended by the government.

Despite the limitations related to operating in an adversarial prison regime, there are still some methods by which ICT groups can mitigate the negative effect of Internet restrictions. As we noticed in the case studies, the authorities' officers desire to narrow the scope of Internet shutdowns however they may no longer have the technical expertise and capacity to do so.

For instance, in Rajasthan, the Internet shutdown orders issued to forestall cheating in police constable recruitment assessments solely required suspension of Internet services in and around examination centers. Similarly, while imposing social media bans, the orders issued with the aid of the Bihar authorities clarified that only new uploads had to be blocked on YouTube, and there was once no prohibition on people the usage of the Internet to watch present YouTube videos. In such cases, good-faith engagement can also be possible between ICT groups and government officers to advance solutions to ensure the scope of Internet restrictions is narrowly limited to what is genuinely required.

ICT corporations that strengthen circumvention tools such as virtual private networks (VPNs) reflect on consideration on the wants of users in nations the place threats exist backyard a rule of law framework. For instance, bans on VPNs in Jammu & Kashmir have been enforced thru bodily violence and human beings have been assaulted with the aid of police officials if VPN apps were discovered on their phone all through random searches at motorway checkpoints and other public spaces.

Therefore, while growing and designing their products, agencies must reflect on consideration on the risks confronted through users dwelling in areas the place human rights violations are common and offer discreetly named or designed choices that may additionally stand a higher chance at keeping off detection in the course of such random searches.

Indian ICT businesses would advantage from gaining knowledge of international nice practices adopted by their foreign counterparts. Here, it might also be instructive for them to refer to the GNI Implementation Guidelines which furnish sensible and special training on how corporations can fulfill their human rights obligations.

The GNI Company Assessment Reports which encompass case research describing how exceptional corporations have handled authorities' needs could also serve as a useful mastering resource. In fact, based totally on these assessment reports, David Sullivan has distilled 5 unique hints for groups dealing with government-ordered network disruptions which include searching for readability about legal obligations, documenting and escalating all demands, narrowing the scope of disruptions, increasing transparency, and taking part with different stakeholders. [16]

Conclusion: Censorship In India
With the increased number of means of expression, the restrictions on the free flow of speech have also increased. Censorship or chilling effect exists even in the absence of legal prosecution. This comes into the picture when people choose to self-censor their speech, i.e., they choose not to express their opinions due to the fear of being prosecuted or being a target of heckler's veto.

In several cases, when interest groups that claim to be offended by books, movies, or works of art pushed for censorship or harassed authors, the government has allowed them a heckler's veto rather than protecting these under attack. Stringent legal censorship also with time promotes intolerance to a scale whether it is not only imposed by court decrees but physical violence.

Justice Jackson in the case of American Communications Association vs. Douds had observed that:
thought control is a copyright of totalitarianism, and we have no claim to it. It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error. We could justify any censorship only when the censors are better shielded against error than the censored . India being a democratic republic needs to frame policies by engaging stakeholders from diverse fields, including think tanks, NGOs, and individuals. Because if this continues to go on, the very core of democracy would be hampered, slowly fading away from our democracy to Orwell's Oceania, and thus turning his fiction 1984 into reality.

Citations and References:

  1. What is Internet Censorship?, September 4, 2015, Brandon Miller
  2. Issue of Censorship in India,, Garima Saxena, May 14, 2020
  3. Internet Censorship in India,, September 23, 2019
  4. Meaning of censor, Wikipedia
  5. Meaning ofcensere, Etymological Dictionary
  6. List of Pros, 11 chief Pros, and Cons of Internet Censorship,
  7. List of Pros, 13 Internet Censorship Pros and Cons,, July 22, 2017, Lousie Gallie
  8. List OF Pros, 11 Biggest Pros and Cons of Censorship,, Keith Miller
  9. List of Cons, 11 Chief Pros and Cons of Internet Censorship,
  10. List of Cons, 13 Internet Censorship Pros and Cons,, July 22, 2017, Lousie Gallie
  11. List of Cons, 11 Biggest Pros and Cons of Censorship, Future of, Keith Miller
  12. Issue of Censorship in India,, Garima Saxena, May 14, 2020
  13. Shreya Singhal V/s Union of India, AIR 2015 SC 1523
  14. Internet Censorship in India,, September 23, 2019
  15. The Internet Censorship Saga in India, internet democracy. in, 21 March 2012, Shobha SV
  16. Internet Censorship in India: Peeking under the Hood,, December 1, 2020, Devdutta Mukhopadhyay.

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