India updates its information technology law. It's a massive update. Before we draw any straight conclusion let us look at what the updated law states.This rule was quietly pushed into action without much buzz, after a month of its introduction it has slowly gained attraction and attention, eventually sparking the debate.
According to the new law, any content that is found "objectionable" is subjected to immediate removal. List of Objectionable content is sweeping and covers anything that "threatens the unity, integrity, defense, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign states or public order."
India's constitution allows "reasonable restrictions" on free speech but lawmakers have periodically stretched that definition to ban books, movies and other material about sensitive subjects like sex, politics and religion.
The law also states that, the internet "intermediaries" including the sites like orkut, Facebook, yahoo, YouTube and other websites should respond to any demand to take down the offensive content within 36 hours. The law doesn't give any chance to the publishers to defend their content.
Though only 10% of Indians use internet the number is fast picking up, especially on mobile devices.
Voice against this law is growing rapidly. People from different sectors view this as the instrument to cap the freedom of expression.
According to a Bangalore based research firm, there are 11 websites which are officially banned by the government. But, there are numerous number of websites blocked by different agencies in the government.
Apart from the "online restrictions" the new law also makes it tougher for cyber cafe users, which is understandable because of various terror incidents where directly related to cyber cafes in the country.
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Finally, how do you look at the new law?