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RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND INTERNET CENSORSHIP IN INDIA: A CRITICAL STUDY

Author: Rayma Simran. C, LL.B. from CMR University


ABSTRACT

The Indian Constitution has guaranteed freedom of speech and expression to the citizen of India under Article 19(1)(a) to let out their view and opinion towards any matte. It includes political view about the government and there representatives. On other hand in the contemporary times the internet has become a major part of Indian society that has given a Wider of platform to the citizen to give there view upon any of the issues, at the same time the internet usage are been subjected to censorship and controlled by government which is under reason restriction guaranteed by the constitution under Article 19 (2).


The growth of internet has brought a fastest way of accessing All kind of information and easily connect the people to share information millions of people in a country are using this network as a tool to express their opinion on different matters. In this research paper it mainly focuses upon the concept of Right to freedom of expression and internet censorship in India. And it also explains online censorship elaborately that why internet censorship is required in today's period and how individuals freedom and censorship has been explained in the judicial pronouncement.


Keywords: Freedom of speech and expression, Censorship, Internet Censorship in India


RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

The research aims to set out a cognitive studywhich is conceptual in nature and this paper is purely based on the Doctrine research and this study is referred as a secondary source study only not the primary source which directly include the raw materials as interview in with people and taking the survey which was not possible, what’s possible only to collect secondary source the facts and figures have been referred from various official websites, blogs and the required information gathered from different articles books and research papers, news etc..


RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

  • The study helps to understand the purpose of internet censorship under the context of India

  • It elaborate the major reasons of censorship of internet

  • Internet censorship and its challenges in recent periods and, including Internet censorships pros and cons


RESEARCH QUESTIONS

  • Whether internet censorship is necessary in recent period ?

  • Whether internet censorship create an issue on free speech and free flow of information ?


HYPOTHESIS

When Constitution of India provided right to freedom of expression it is not an absolute right where as the same constitution is also provided reasonable restriction. In the same context internet censorship as also been a part it, which is necessary for the present era but it can also be negatively used by government in an political agenda, as a result it can affect the third pillar of democracy which is media.


LITERATURE REVIEW

  • Vani Agrawal, Priyanshi Sharma, Internet Censorship in India

This article elaborate term internet censorship in India with the help of various tools and method used for censoring the internet in India it also looks into each and every mode of censorship internet from the user since 1999 to 2013 and gives an elaborate report of internet statistic it also mainly focus is appoint the concept of internet censorship under Indian context[1].

  • Suman Pathak and Aakanksha Derashree, Internet Censorship in India: Boom or Bane[2].

This article the researcher into discuss about the battle between freedom of speech and expression and internet sensation the discussion widely focus upon online censorship which involves politics and other corruption practices in large it also discuss about the policy agenda towards restriction under freedom of speech.

  • Garima Saxena, Issue of Censorship in India

This block post analyses the challenges faced by internet censorship in India and

Recognize the legal system of various countries such as United State of America Sweden and United Kingdom about the freedom of speech and expression and it demonstrate the Indian Constitution freedom of expression to give an idea throughout media law[3].

  • Sarthak Dash Bhatta Amishra, Right to Access to Internet in India: Fundamental Rights or a Glorified Privilege[4]?

In this article there is a analyze the contemporary times where internet has become a part of Indian society and clarified the questions regarding right to access internet whether it is a privilege or a fundamental rights moreover does right to access internet is protected under Article 21.

  • Devanshree Rai and Gitika Jain, Internet Censorship: Misuse of the Freedom of Speech and Expression[5]

In this web article the writer express is view on misuse of the freedom of speech and expression in the context of internet censorship it also discuss about the reasonable restrictions and social media battles for is reckless use of free speech.

  • Raagya Priya Zadu, Internet censorship[6]

This block post discusses about the internet censorship and analysis if internal censorship is the freedom of speech and expression being as a disadvantage or is Internet the new platform to look through the words largest democracy.

  • Koustubh Chandra, Necessity of Censorship of Internet[7]

In this web article the author Express about the various aspect of internet censorship in India which also includes its Pro and cons and The article basically give the basic recommendation for the government to implement the policy and planning about the various stages taken for censoring internet.

  • Chandrima Mitra, Social media norms must balance freedom of speech, censorship[8]

In this article it talks about the facts that most popular social media platforms are always based on US whether it might effect the order of executives on such social media platform in USA does this create an impact globally it has been balanced and discussed in this article and article majorly focus upon censoring social media content and the right to freedom of speech how Indian codes have repeatedly deal with it


INTRODUCTION

The internet across the Global one of the fastest growing Technology in terms of technology are avarying degree that has been reflected and still it will continue to reflect the evolution of freedom on the way of recent technology and advance network connections the Ambit of freedom as being substantiallyheated up and reached when another stage[9]. The expression of freedom can also be more suitable to suggest that a technology which has been used not just by in Individual for an a pleasant or Unpleasant intention but also for moderate regime, for the more in an diverse society a public policy should always be director for the purpose of promoting and expanding the liberty of the citizen this act as a technical tool the usage of technology.


Internet as a largest public platform due to it's availability and accessibility there are wider audience. Internet which is used for the purpose of sharing information helps in providing various opportunities so basically it becomes a medium which can be used in the term it has to be protected for the purpose of preventing crimes[10]. The prevention measures a concept of internet censorship, internet censorship is an control over the axis viewed or published data on the Internet platform. Internet censorship is governed and controlled by government and it can also carried out by an public organisation for any purpose that act as a preventive measure against individual religious business or moral reasons and the purpose of the censorship is to protect the society from defamation, invasion of privacy and other illegal business to carry out.


It is said that “ Any art that could corrupt morality should be censored”[11] under this context under article 19 of the Indian Constitution right to freedom of speech and expression which is a fundamental right is applicable on the same way with the reasonable restriction is also being mentioned where the scrutinity comes in the form of censorship, the conflict between right to freedom of expression and censorship is always Debatable concept because when the freedom of expression give the right to express a individuals free opinion the censorship try to scrutinize and limit there rights in view point of the conflict.


The Main Purpose of Internet Censorship

To access internet is one of the easiest and fasters method internet has been easily available for everyone to have access that all the data available on the Internet provides various information’s, running businesses moreover, multinational companies are sustained due to internet in such case in the present day internet Usage also have demerits such as easily available access to internet can distract meaning teenagers time and talent moreover it is widely open for the adults world it is necessary for the peoples to share their opinion in any of the platform in the internet but at the same time it can also create a greater disaster if it leads the youth towards illegal activity and the opinion related to field like politics, arts, entertainment, sports and philosophy or always has negative and positive impact. Internet Censorship act as a preventive method for the public and the society to follow the social norms it is necessary to handle the situation which comes under defamation against state and any illegal business, invasion of privacy etc.


The most common reasons for internet censorship are:-

  • Protecting national security such as using internet for buying weapons illegal drugs it also prevents from the terrorism.

  • In the concerned of protecting minors from abuse firms of human trafficking violence drugs pornography.

  • To protect human dignity, prevent the individual from incitement towards hate speech, racial hatred, creating enmity, discrimination.

  • Protecting from economic security such as Fraudulent activity Duplicate Credit Cards.

  • Protecting Information and Communication from hacking

  • Protection of privacy such as unauthorized communication from any individuals personal data protection of the repetitions from deformation and unlawful comparative advertising.

  • Protection from unauthorized distribution of any copyrighted materials under intellectual property.


Internet Censorship under Freedom of Expression

The freedom of speech and expression provided under article 19(1)(a) is not an absolute right where as it involves reasonable restrictions which is provided the same constitution under 19(2). The censorship issue is a debatable topic in India the censorship issue as been worried by citizen whether it might effect there free speech supporters and civil rights, where the Indian government over the past years have been tried to sensor free the speech and free flow of the information and communication, in the form of right to freedom of speech and expression which act as a fundamental rights under article 19(1)(a) of Indian Constitution when It Up held a basic right by the constitution various judgement has been dead to express the application of reasonable restriction with the help of Supreme Court judgements.


Implementation of reasonable restriction which act as a limitation that it post on each and every citizen of a country to enjoy the rights these restriction are always conserve as useful the different period why the government in contest of free speech an expression in the recent period the reason amendment took place on 2019 was The Unlawful Activity (Prevention) Act 1967 under this act amendment to please that altered section 35 of the act and give power to the central government to notify any individual if he involved in terrorism prayer to this act the government can protect the interest of the state it's sovereignty and integrity[12], in such case freedom of speech and expression as become a medium of interest in an Central part of article 19(1)(a) under Indian Constitution for the more any restriction for the same in accordance with the article 19 2 of the constitution in the contest of internet censorship is taken seriously by the Indian government at the state and also Central even National level[13].


Issues and Necessity of Internet Censorship

Cyber censorship was the first establishment by parliament in the information technology act which leader foundation Framework towards rules and regulation to use or access the internet for communication security trade and hacking etc. The main purpose of this act is to provide protection towards axis of internet and also a legal recognition for the transaction that has been carried out by in the means of electronic device with the help of internet in the letter period it has been amended the Indian penal code[14] and also other act such as Indian Evidence Act[15] and Reserve Bank of India[16] act for the other matters which involved security purpose.


Government by introducing various amendments in the hack as successfully censored free speech and flow of information in such case 2008 and abundant of act also give over towards the government to censor the content or data, to protect the sovereignty and integrity of the country such as defence of India and the security of the state in the interest of Central relation towards foreign states and public order for preventing incitement and commission of any kind of cognizable crime.


Shreya Singhal Vs Union of India

The fact of the case is a cartoonist was denied for making a cartoon. Who is from West Bengal arrested for drawing a particular cartoon based on Chief Minister and posted it on internet and also the persons work like this post more than 2 women has been arrested in this case there was a fight against section 66A of Information Technology Act which prohibits sharing any offensive information’s in online the supreme court took this case on the ground of violating article 19(1)(a) most probably did not pass reasonable restriction also[17]. The argument under the case is to protect the public order where as the issue under section 66A is also causing a chilling effect towards the speech and expression which has been addressed by the court the chilling effect on free speech has its fail to give the proper definition towards them offensive inconvenience 66A. As the result suction 66a of Information Technology Act 2000 was completely struck down as it was violated article 19 one of the Constitution of India[18].


Various Reports of Internet Censorship in India

In our country most preventive methods to access online or internet content take place under section 69(a) of Information Technology Act 2000 which also direct the government to stop or block harmful contents which can be either about the state or about any of the protestations by the public or to protect the interest of sovereignty and integrity of a country[19]. Internal censorship in our country can have a sudden shutdown of Internet in various state by using URL blocking as well as a complete shutdown of websites.

  • Reporters without borders:- it is a set of list of reporters without borders, under this list of countries which are serve lens from March 2012 for example the instant took place on Mumbai for bombing the year 2008 by which India was added to this list of current Enemies under internet in the year 2014 and it is also still being a part of this Particular list.

  • Open Net Initiative Report:- in this particular report India engage as a selective for the internet filtering post or any other material related to political conflict security purpose and social or IT act as a internet tool from 2011 and has been censored for such content it also has some set of rules and conditions that to block by country it has to be a vast portion of content in various country most probably the category should be able to figure it out from medium level filtering or from numerous categories the selective few specific sides are being blocked or it can be small number of category also which comes under the targeted classification even though when there is no evidence the website still being blocked by the government.

  • Freedom House Report:-Freedom house report stated India as one of the freedom on net status for party leafy with the rating 41Declared on 2016 which is better than lower This limit on the content was based on the protection of violence and for uses right in that particular report India was ranked 29th country out of 65 countries in this report.


Pros and Cons of Internet Censorship in India

The prone of internet sensation helps in eliminating miss information messages that creative enmity in the society especially about fake news rumors which is unwanted and also any kind of controversial matters related to state or politics which creates a Bias in society. In a positive role it helps in security of individual privacy business and transaction it also else in place is called dark web where many illegal activities are available, it is very necessary to protect the private information’s of every individual and business the personal data of every individual should be very secured then it can be done only by internet censorship. The regulations by government towards internet censorship can easily make any kind of provision and long that should be followed by each and every individual or else it could lead to Penalty[20].


The disadvantage of internet censorship are where a set of rules and regulation get overpower towards authority and only some set of people being authorized to control censorship towards internet for their own benefit it act as arbitrary in nature, In reality internet censorship is very expensive many country faces it fortune. The information which has been controlled according to the survey done by economic forum it is common that one out of 4 people in overall world are using the internet but many people are facing penalties just because of online content And many nations have strict loss respect to internet Censorship Which is against Rights and freedom of individual.


Suggestions

It is observe that in Civil Society organisation individuals are facing penalties but the authorities for the usage of censored internet this is acid that bring when an actual content in internet site is been blocking which is inconsistently up Pride throat the communication or information many research suggest that there is only 27.64% of blog website that are officially blocked rest of others are unofficially blocked. The freedom of speech and expression is a medium which include reasonable restrictions also that internet censorship as a restart the restriction it should be taken seriously by the government while implementing it.


That every situations who gives his genuine opinion about politics or other contribution topic should not be prosecuted the blocks post which are genuine and has true content with the actual research made should not be taken down or struck down just an act of violating the freedom of speech and expression in India that doesn't mean the government cannot have criteria or sensor free speech and flow of information it can be held moreover the government should also handle the requested made towards internet censorship law properly seeing its advantage and disadvantage and tackle the hassle.


Conclusion

The government should handle internet censorship with the right balance between freedom of speech and expression and including other components as far as internet censorship as being quite in inadequate in terms of politics and business management regarding freedom of expression speech by blocking content for the benefit of politics and personal information is also a variation of speech and expression so the law should be very transparent enough that every citizen understand properly and that they should be certain change which has to be followed by government also so that there is a balance between internet censorship and freedom of speech and expression.


Reference


[1]Vani Agrawal and Priyanshi Sharma, Internet Censorship in India, SSRN-PAPERS, accessed on: May, 14, 2022, available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3309268 [2]Suman Pathak and Aakanksha Derashree, Internet censorship in India: Boom or Bane, PAPERS SSRN, accessed on May, 14, 2022, 6:59 pm, available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3442995 [3]Garima Saxena, Issues of Censorship in India, LEGALBITES, accessed on: May, 14, 2022, 7:11pm, available at: https://www.legalbites.in/issue-of-censorship-in-india/#:~:text=In%202008%2C%20an%20amendment%20to,preventing%20incitement%20to%20the%20commission [4]Sarthak Dash Bhatta Mishra, Right to internet in India: Fundamental right, or Glorified privilege?, PAPERS SSRN, accessed on: May, 14, 2022, Availableat : https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3857364 [5]Gitika Jain and Devanshree Rai, Internet Censorship: Misuse of the Freedom of speech, IPLEADERS, accessed on May, 15, 2022, 8:56pm, Available at : https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3857364 [6]Raagya Priya Zadu, Internet Censorship, LEGAL SERVICE, accessed on: May, 15, 2022, available at : http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/946/Internet-Censorship.html [7]Koustubh Chandra, Necessity of Censorship of Internet, LEGAL SERVICE INDIA, accessed on : May, 15, 2022, 11:30pm, Available at : https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-6308-necessity-of-censorship-of-internet-.html [8]Chandrima Mitra, social media norms must balance freedom of speech, censorship, LIVE MINT, accessed at : May, 15, 2022, Available at : https://www.livemint.com/news/india/social-media-norms-must-balance-freedom-of-speech-censorship-chandrima-mitra/amp-11591040306998.html [9]Sarthak Dash Bhatta Mishra, Right to internet in India: Fundamental right, or Glorified privilege?, Available at : https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3857364 [10]Sahajveerbweja, Internet Censorship in India, Lawctopus, Available at : https://www.lawctopus.com/distressed-reflection-of-internet-censorship-in-indian-society/amp/ [11]Greek Philosopher Plato [12]Constitutionality of UAPA Amendment, Supreme Court noted on May, 12, 2020 [13]Anuradha Bhasin Vs Union of India AIR 2019, Available at : https://globalfreedomofexpression.columbia.edu/cases/bhasin-v-union-of-india/ [14]1860 Act [15]1872 Act [16]1934 Act [17]Gitika Jain and Devanshree Rai, Internet Censorship: Misuse of the Freedom of speech, IPLEADERS, a Available at: https://blog.ipleaders.in/internet-censorship-misuse-freedom-speech-expression/?amp=1 [18]Shreya SinghalVs Union of India a case which regenerated the liberty to book speech and expression in the country, I PLEADERS, Available at : https://blog.ipleaders.in/shreya-singhal-v-union-india-case-rejuvenated-liberty-speech-expression-country/?amp=1 [19]Anuradha Bhasin Vs Union of India AIR 2019. [20]Devanshree, Internet censorship misuse of the freedom of speech and expression