State of Internet Rights and Freedom in India
Dates: 4 February 2015
Venue: India International Centre
Lecture Hall 2, Annexxe
40 Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi.
United Nations Human Rights Council
Dates: 2-27 March 2015
Venue: Geneva, Palais des Nations.
Dates: 24-25 March 2015
Internet Group Forum
Dates: 10 October – 13 November 2015
Venue: João Pessoa
The most Indians today access internet via mobile phones and thus, formulating correct policies in terms of network neutrality is required. Even if we leave internet, even SMS is an important medium to connect and everyone is aware of the disastrous policies that have been adopted in past regarding SMS. A lot of legitimate marketing companies are suffering because they have to pay huge costs to send these SMSs. Similar policies have been imposed for blocking internet to stop the vertical access to the social media sites.”
Use of Internet is universal and the urge to control it is as universal. It is more about citizens who are using the service via different mediums and thus they should have a stake in it. Again the knee jerk responses we see by the governments across the globe occur because their citizens have tasted freedom in the recent past only be it via Internet or any other medium. Different countries have their own ways of handling issues so it cannot be simply said that there is a trade off between cyber security.”
The fact that this right (Right to freedom of speech) is posing huge threats to our right to privacy is very true. Recently enough the govt. has been trying to address the issue by setting up the panels for cyber security and demanding content and clarifications from a number of companies. Also provisions are now being made to ensure that some part of internet infrastructure should be made by Indian manufacturers.”
One of my current grave concern is where we are heading in terms of how governments interact with internet specifically what action and reactions we think going wrong, some steps are taken in the name of religion and some in the name of protecting culture and children etc. and the list goes on. There is always an excuse for any potential action plan over the same or any suitable policy by the government. My question is when will this stop? When you shut down internet nobody wins.
Freedom of expression is the core right in any democracy. The challenges I look in freedom of expression over the past years, I see two trends, hate speeches on one hand and security issues on the other hand. There is a need to go much more in detail about where exactly does the problem lie and how does that clear specifically in our society.”
In current situation, most of debates are because of the National Policy on Telecom which largely talks about security and regulation aspects of IT and openness of it. However, there is National Open Policy, approved by the cabinet in the last month, refers to disapprobation on RTI and making entire content online. But it could not be possible until and unless proper infrastructure is available. The government, industry players and civil society groups collectively have to play their respective roles.”
RTI is a tedious process, however, the government has given timeline of receiving RTI status of 1 month but the process is not been followed by intermediaries who process the RTI applications. Thus, applicants wait for months long just to know the status of their RTI applications. There should be uniform policy within inside the government departments, organisations and agencies that entire information should be disseminated publically.
The ‘Right to Information’ was the first movement that brought thousands of people together in shaping the Right to Information Act. 1% population of the country definitely uses RTI for their basic purposes. The question is that how to link internet with RTI effectively and synergize the use of RTI among rural citizens. Information in the public domain has always raised issues and Internet can be instrumental to curb the media sensation.”
Social media as a strong technology platform to improve the community interaction but awareness of Social media usage in the Rural areas and grassroots. Social Media is not only about Facebook, twitter and Google+ but few inter messaging systems has also become the faster channel for youth to activate the communication anytime at an open fire speed like interactive mobile services.
We just don’t need our content to go viral, we need internet connectivity. A lady at Jharkhand village who has some ground level issues, needs her voice to be listened. It takes time in remote areas to get technology work, unlike Delhi it took me six months to get an internet connection in Bhopal.
I am a guest blogger at New York times and I have been blogging about different social issues in Pakistan. I have faced challenges working with tribal areas in Pakistan as the community is little conservative in terms of being social but gradually we see them growing.