Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sibal's ''Fatwa'' on Internet and Social Networking websites and its consequences

Few days back Kapil Sibal called representatives of Facebook and Google, and objected on certain content referring it as "offensive" and demanded that content must be screened before its uploaded, if these are the personal views of our Union Communication and IT minister then I am sorry to say that probably this is what happens when a lawyer by profession is given a ministry like Communication & IT, which is completely an alien thing for him because Sibal's statement of screening online content displays how deep understanding he has about Internet, but if this is the stand of government and Congress party then it reveals the undemocratic and dictatorship approach, hence before moving ahead with this, they must first define the terms "offensive" and "defamatory" and let the people of this nation know what is the definition of these terms in their dictionary ? and what is objectionable according to them and what is not ? but according to my understanding it seems that whatever exposes the congress party and its top leaders including the first family of this country, is considered as offensive and objectionable by government and congress party.

Its said Sibal showed some pictures(pictures depicting God were 2 years old) to representatives of Facebook and Google, most of them were cartoons of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and said its "unacceptable", he gave an argument that some content on social networking sites are derogatory, defamatory and inflammatory and may ignite communal sentiments, but fact is that whoever is familiar with social networking sites knows very well that these websites itself monitor such content and anyone can report such content to website with just a simple click and website acts strictly and removes such content, most stupid thing about Sibal's argument is that he is comparing Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi's Images to the Images of almighty God which is completely absurd and bizarre.

Sibal also further stated that if these companies don't act, then government will itself develop a a mechanism to manage the issue, and since then number of Facebook pages specifically anti-congress and anti-corruption pages and communities have itself magically extincted, but Google refused to bow down to these demands and to government's pressure and stated "we won't remove material just because it's controversial" so as an answer on the very next day Google India was served by a notice from Income Tax department, so now we know about which mechanism Sibal was referring to in his statement, message here is loud and clear either you bow down or we have other ways too. 

Day before yesterday I was listening to the speech of Hilary Clinton in a conference on Internet Freedom at the Hague, where she not only clarified U.S stand on Internet freedom, but also laid emphasis on its importance and its constructive role and said human rights must be respected online as offline, she also mentioned that censoring Internet would be disastrous, and I must say that here on this topic I completely agree with her views, and according to me this attempt to control Internet and social media is violation of our fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression, 

we have seen number of examples where we can observe that directly or indirectly ruling government has been controlling print media and television media, and its an open secret now (just recall Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghvi and prabhu Chawla episode) that there are large number of media houses which are working as mouthpiece of Congress, and its ironically true that our media is biased and speaks only what political parties and government wants it to speak or whatever suites the government, and in this scenario a common man has only one medium of Internet,social media and social networking sites to express his views, but since government has witnessed the power,importance,capability and effectiveness of Internet and social networking sites in latest anti corruption crusade, now they want to control this medium by fair or unfair means (as I just mentioned above the case of Google India) which shows that this government can go to any extent to silence its critiques, and to protect the so called "sacred" Image of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, and for doing so government and congress is preparing to gag the voice of 127 crores of Indians.

According to me this step is going to have adverse effects on our society because the views,expressions and anger of citizens had to come out some way, and up till now people have been using Internet and social networking sites as a medium to express themselves, but if they are restricted from doing so, then only God knows in which way the wrath of a common man will come out, and there is high probability that the other way might be a violent one. 

Yesterday only we saw the Impact of government's move, when on the occasion of birthday of Sonia Gandhi the official website of Indian National Congress was hacked and some objectionable content was put in there, which I see as an impact and an answer to counter, oppose and protest against government's move of controlling and screening online content.

I have heard number of politicians praising U.S laws and its democratic structure on several issues, but I would also like to point out here that Supreme court of U.S once said that "government can't act as censor of thoughts and can't attack freedom of expression of the people and screening online content is like taking away the freedom of speech and expression", now I firmly believe India is not an ideal and true democracy, and we as a nation still have to grow a lot to become an ideal democracy, but I am sorry to say that this talibani approach of congress and government is not going to help  the nation in any possible way, and gagging 127crores of Indian nationals just to protect the image of party high-command of congress is grossly unfair and is a clear example of dictatorship.

Our political class has always shown double standards, and they are so hypocrite that when it comes to talk they will talk about the structure of U.K and U.S but when they feel the heat due to their own corrupt practices they are trying to push the nation on the path of North Korea and China, 

Our politicians must realize that being a public figure they have to pay a certain price for it, and this approach of shooting the messenger is a lethal trend, and its high time that they must address the substantial core issues, our political class should understand that there is lots of anger and outrage in the people of this nation, and people must not be pushed any further because if that anger reaches a saturation point then this government may have to deal with a law and order problem.


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