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Rules Designed To Empower…

Several organisations, including Twitter, have strongly criticised the Government of India for enacting the new Information Technology (IT) Law. The ongoing conflict between those organisations and India recently took a new turn, as Google Chief Sundar Pichai raised the issue of free and open use of the Internet. While participating in a discussion on the importance of the Internet in the British Media last week, Pichai said it was unfortunate that many countries were restricting the flow of information. Without taking names of India and China, he told the audience that those countries were subjectively defining “free speech”, apart from drawing rigid boundaries. The top official of one of the world’s largest tech companies with annual revenues of over USD 182 billion urged the “countries with strong Democratic Traditions and Values” to protest against the fragmenting of the Internet.

Sundar Pichai

According to the Google chief, the Internet plays an important role in providing people with accurate information. However, some countries, which do not want the Internet to play its role, are constantly undermining the free and open use of the global system of interconnected computer networks. The Google CEO stressed: “I think a free and open Internet is a tremendous force for good and we take it for granted a bit. In each country, now, there is a debate about what speech is Okay and what should be allowed… in some ways, I think we pull back from the bigger picture (which is that) many countries around the world are restricting the flow of information and drawing much more rigid boundaries.

It may be noted that the Government of India recently amended the IT Act, introducing strict rules to monitor all contents and videos published on the Internet. It is clearly mentioned in the amended Act that social media platforms, like Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, should maintain a record of the source of each and every post. Even OTT (Over-The-Top) platforms and TV channels have been asked to abide by the new rules.

Twitter has strongly criticised the Government of India’s move, saying that it is against the Freedom of Speech enshrined in the Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. The Article 19 states: “Everyone has the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, this right includes Freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Twitter has moved the court, challenging the amendment of the IT Act. Experts are of the opinion that Pichai has warned of threats to Internet Freedom, keeping in mind the attack on the Internet by the Indian State.

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