Censorship Of Internet In India: A Boon or a Bane for the society?
"The internet is becoming the town square for the global village of
This quote by Bill Gates summarizes the function of the internet since its
inception. The basic aim of the internet was to bring people from all the
corners of the world to a platform where they can collectively think, discuss,
innovate for a better future. But with the rising use of internet over the years
in both positive and negative ways ,there rises a necessity to control the use
Rising Of The Internet
January 1, 1983 is considered the official birthday of the Internet. Its origin
in the efforts to build and interconnect computer networks that arose from
research and development in the United States and involved international
collaboration, particularly with researchers in the United Kingdom and France.
The term "internet" was reflected in the first RFC published on the TCP
protocol as a short form of internetworking, when the two terms were used
interchangeably. In general, an internet was a collection of networks linked by
a common protocol. As interest in networking grew by needs of collaboration,
exchange of data, and access of remote computing resources, the TCP/IP
technologies spread throughout the rest of the world.
During the late 1980s, the first Internet Service Provider (ISP) companies were
formed. Companies like PSINet, UUNET, Netcom, and Portal Software were formed to
provide service to the regional research networks and provide alternate network
access.By 1990 new internet service providers were offering network services to
commercial customers.With the introduction of World Wide Web and browsers,
global internet services saw a tremendous rise from 1989 to 2004,this period was
called Web 1.0.During this era internet was widely used for mailing lists,
emails, e-commerce and early popular online shopping (Amazon and eBay for
example), online forums and bulletin boards, and personal websites and blogs.
The changes that would propel the Internet into its place as a social system
took place during a relatively short period of no more than five years, from
around 2004 to 2009,this period is called Web 2.0 which ranges from
2004-present.It included acceleration of adoption and commoditization among
households of, and familiarity with, the necessary hardware (such as
Storage technology and data access speeds “ hard drives emerged,
took over from far smaller, slower floppy discs, and grew from megabytes to
gigabytes (and by around 2010, terabytes), RAM from hundreds of kilobytes to
gigabytes as typical amounts on a system, and Ethernet, the enabling technology
for TCP/IP, moved from common speeds of kilobits to tens of megabits per second,
to gigabits per second.Their was also a gradual acceleration of perception of
the ability of computers to create new means and approaches to communication,
the emergence of social media and websites such as Twitter and Facebook to their
later prominence. The Mobile revolution, provided access to the Internet to much
of human society of all ages, in their daily lives, and allowed them to share,
discuss, and continually update, inquire, and respond.
The Internet in India began in 1986 and was available only to the educational
and research community. It was publicly available from 15 August 1995. The
growth in internet users in India was driven by cut-price data plans introduced
by Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd and cheaper smartphones,making India home to the
world's 2nd largest internet database.
This platform will bring together 350
million customer footfalls at Reliance Retail stores, 307 million Jio
connectivity customers and 30 million small merchants all over India who provide
the last-mile physical market connectivity¯ says the Reliance Industries
Chairman Ltd chairman Mukesh Ambani.As a result India is home to the world's
2nd largest internet database. More than half the world"s population is active
on the internet, with India accounting for about 12% of them.
Internet Becoming A Necessity
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us clearly that the Internet is no longer a
luxury, a convenient enhancement for lifestyles for those who can afford it.
Rather, Internet access has become a basic necessity. As in all moments of major
technological change, people, companies, and institutions feel the depth of the
change, but they are often overwhelmed by it, out of sheer ignorance of its
With the Internet"s arrival, a person can communicate with another person (often
with strangers). Simultaneously, there is no dependence on the location of both,
and communication can be maintained continuously. It allows people to create
content, solve problems, and communicate with each other, like virtual
This way can be used both for leisure or for business purposes. At the
same time, communication by using the Internet has removed many technical and
psychological restrictions. It has become easier to contact a person, and
communication has become more extended. Academic research has established that
the Internet does not isolate people, nor does it reduce their sociability; it
actually increases sociability.
The reasons for the increasing role of the Internet in modern society are the
endless desire of a person to understand others and to be understood by others
and the progressive development of methods for receiving, processing,
collecting, and businesses.The fact that millions of Internet users worldwide
and the starting conditions are approximately equal, but the benefits pursued
can be very different. So, the importance of the Internet can differ from person
Everything turned into digital. Now we have stopped enjoying real communication;
everything happens in the digitally growing world.The Internet in the modern
world is the largest mass media as it conveys trends in fashion, culture, and
festival behavior cultivated in the Internet environment that is most actively
introduced into our daily lives.The rapid growth in the number of internet users
worldwide made possible the full functioning of the virtual space, repeating the
real spheres of human life.Internet technologies have penetrated into science,
culture, technology, production, medicine, education, economics, politics, and
nothing but everywhere.
The Internet gave us the feeling of unity, communication without regard to
residence, and the distance between people.Today it will take only a few seconds
to send info from one end to another end of the world. Create joint projects and
meetings, conferences, live entire virtual lives on gaming platforms, and use
all kinds of means (images, video, text, sound) to demonstrate their lifestyle,
The Internet is an excellent source of information. Each person can turn to his
knowledge of resources for others and find the answer to his question.
Encyclopedias and reference books are in the distant past. Now, for each
question, you can find the answer to the digital encyclopedias.Information on
the Internet can be updated or changed at any point in time, which helps to
improve the quality of the learning process and understanding.
The Internet is currently a source of information, a social and political
platform, mass media, and a business network at the same time. With access to
Internet connections, you can sell the product and services, even yours or
Kerala in the year 2017 had become the first state to recognise Right to access
internet as a fundamental right in the case of Faheema Shirin v. State of
Kerala.Consequently while hearing a plea in connection with Internet blockade in
Jammu and Kashmir since August 5 -- in the view of revoking of Article 370 in
the Union Territory, the Supreme Court declared access to internet a fundamental
right,it has been listed in Article 19(1)(a) of the constitution.The ruling is
in sync with the United Nations recommendation that every country should make
access to Internet a fundamental right.
However with the indefinite use of the internet with so many people using it ,it
does possess some negative effects.
Social consequences of the Internet can be linked to social networking and
mostly relate to personal networks within the social field. For example, there
are studies on the influence of social media use on existing social ties or
relationships, indicating that this Internet activity enhances an
individualization process .Negative consequences that relate to the personal
field are often associated with the individuals" mental or physical state, such
as aggression and hostility, neglect of health, detrimental changes in sleep and
eating patterns, anxiety, and curtailing of other pastime activities.
There is an increase in the rate of crime as compared to the pre-internet
era,many new crimes have come up through the internet such as phishing,
net-banking frauds,SMS frauds etc.
With a smartphone in almost every hand of the world,a heavy increase in
fake-news can be seen worldwide,different people post the information in a
different manner and this information can be deciphered in 100 ways,this leads
to the promulgation of fake news.A huge amount of fake news can witnessed during
the COVID times, where people across the world opined their ways to end COVID
and posted false information regarding the virus.
Absence of a strict regulation on the internet also results in viewing of
anything on the internet by anyone irrespective of his/her age ,viewing of adult
content or violence results in the change of behavioural pattern of
children,they tend to be more violent.
Internet has also given a rise to mob lynching activities particularily in
India, various instances have been seen where lynchers gather virtually through
a Whatsapp group and the lynching is executed.
The Need To Control The Internet
With the changing times as the internet has become a necessity,the necessity of
censorship of the internet in a positive direction has also arisen.
The internet besides being a source of information, communication is also
flooded with negativity such as foul language, sexual content ,violence in
various videos and OTT platforms. One can also access dark web to purchase
ammunition,weapons etc.Person of any age can watch any videos or content on the
internet for eg. If one would search "how to make a bomb" or " how to incite
violence" etc. hundreds of websites and videos may appear on the internet which
would instigate a person to commit these crimes.
Similarly, sexual content and violence appearing on OTT platforms and videos
when watched by the young minds instigate them to commit brutal crimes like
rapes and murder.
Social media platforms were formed so that people could come forward and
communicate,discuss on various issues that they would bring a positive change in
the society,but these platforms do not offer any strict check on the activities
on these platforms.
An example of this can be seen from an incidence that
happened in May 2020,where Members of the group called "Bois locker Room", said
to be students of the 11th and 12th grades in some of Delhi's top schools,
posted photos of teenage girls without their consent, along with offensive
comments. A number of conversations purportedly showed members talking about
sexually assaulting their classmates. This group was formed on a worldwide known
social media platform "Instagram".
Censorship of internet is also necessary to protect the privacy of the people.In
the digital everything is available online, a person"s name,address,mobile
number,account details and other personal details are somewhere registered on
the internet.There is a huge need to protect this information as it leads to
banking frauds and can lead to cyber warfare among the countries.
In May 2021, an
Israeli Cyber Intelligence Company found that data of Dominos for the past 5
years and data of Air India for the past 10 years has been hacked and is
available online publicly by the hackers.
According to the National Statistical Commission ,the average literacy rate in
India is 74.4% in the year 2011.This shows that literacy in India has still not
achieved a satisfactory level but the internet is a flood of
information,entertainment etc. both positive and negative and the internet is
used by all the classes of the society right from the lower class to the upper
class.If all the information irrespective of the age ,education level,guidance
is provided it is bound to create a negative impact on the society in the form
of crimes, violence etc. Therefore, the need to have censorship on the internet
is of utmost importance in today"s world.
The Ways In Which Censorship On The Internet Should Take Place
Censorship means any regime or context in which the content of what is publicly
expressed, exhibited, published, broadcast, or otherwise distributed is
regulated or in which the circulation of information is controlled.- Oxford
Censorship in no sense should be understood as the means to curb people's
voice,opinion on a particular subject.It should be understood as the regulations
to help in the healthy functioning and usage of the internet.
In February 2021, the Government of India issued guidelines called Information
Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021
which talk about a 3 tier regulatory mechanism for digital news media and OTT
These guidelines with respect to OTT platforms state that they should comply
with the laws of India and not stream content against integrity and sovereignty
of India, ensuring security of the country and friendly relations with foreign
countries and not stream content which may disturb public order. The platforms
also have been cautious of various racial and religious beliefs and practices.
This censorship by the Government of India is not the desired kind of
This censorship does not provide for any kind of strict age regulation
It does not give any limit for the sexual content, foul language and violence
for the OTT platforms
It fails to give the criteria for the content which may disturb the public order
or friendly relations with other countries.
This type of censorship can be misused by any government to silence its
criticisms,thereby curbing the fundamental right of free speech and expression.
Similarly the rules introduced in May 2021,for social media platforms like
Whatsapp,Twitter,Signal etc. are against the privacy of its users.One of the
rules says the social media platform has to submit the name of the first
originator of a message/post if asked by the court or any government
authority,it breaches into the privacy of its users these platforms can view the
messages sent to anyone.
Therefore, to have censorship that would have a positive impact on the
society,the administration of that country should formulate policies/laws that
would strictly cater the needs for the development of the society.
First of all, a strict law must be made to have an age restriction on certain
websites and adult content
The extent to which sexual content , foul languages and violence to be shown
should be clearly elaborated by the law
A strong cyber police should be set up to handle the cyber grievances and would
ensure the privacy of the users on the internet
Online content which would tarnish the image of India among other nations should
be removed.This law should be formulated with proper criteria's and due diligence
so that it does not hamper the people's right of free speech and expression and
does not favour any government rather protects the image of the country.
Social media platforms should ensure that no sexual content in the form of
videos/photos/messages should be transmitted through their platform ,at the same
time maintaining the privacy of their users.Censorship, for a long time, has
been seen as a taboo to the existence of democracy, freedom of speech and
expression, freedom to live with dignity etc. However if censorship is put in a
proper and effective way it will lead to a healthy and progressive functioning
of a state.
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