Tag Archives: Internet Regulation

December, 2014: Fireworks and more!

December, 2014, has been the month when the Indian community received a multitude of shocks, one after the other and each one more powerful, on the issue of internet-related legal problems.

First, we had the lamentable Uber issue, which was followed by Airtel announcing (and later withdrawing) its VoIP-data plan, which violated Net Neutrality down to the first principle. This also inspired TRAI to work on a consultation on Net Neutrality. Soon after, we learnt that SoI had filed a case against Google for “displaying an incorrect map” of India. And just as the month was wrapping up, Airtel and Hathway accidentally blocked all of imgur rather than just a single image.

The biggest surprise of all, finally and unquestionably, came on New Year’s Eve itself, with the Government blocking 32 websites, apparently for hosting anti-India content from ISIS, and then unblocking four, namely, (gist) Github, Weebly, Vimeo and DailyMotion.

This was also the month where the ShammiWitness twitter account issue came to light, and some very interesting developments took place the cases on Sections 66A, 69A and 74 of the Information Technology Act.

December, then, has been quite the interesting month. We’ve covered the issues involved in the above disputes in detail earlier. Specifically, on the question of blocking websites, I’d refer you to my post here, and Veera’s post here. On the question of net neutrality, I’d refer you to my post here. We will be coming out with comments on the ShammiWitness issue and on Uber shortly.

But it is unarguable that the events of December 2014 have had an immense effect on internet regulation in India, the ripples of which we’ll be dealing with for some time yet. The sad part, though, is the fact that most of these changes seem to indicate that as far as the Internet is concerned we, as a country, are headed down exactly the wrong roads.

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A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: The Trans-Pacific Partnership

[Image Source: http://flic.kr/p/osRzan]

After the scrapping of the ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ (SOPA) and the ‘Protect IP Act’ (PIPA) in the U.S., one could have been under the impression that the Internet would be free from unadulterated interference by the government. SOPA and PIPA basically gave the government unprecedented powers to shut down any website/blog at will. Be that as it may, few know about the presence of an equally perilous agreement called the ‘Trans-Pacific Partnership’. U.S. is a key member of this partnership bolstered by corporate lobbyists and this will ultimately be pushed down on all countries around the world by means of trade deals. WikiLeaks in recent times has released some draft chapters of the TPP. In this blog post, I will try to analyze some contentious provisions of the TPP from the viewpoint of an Indian internet user.

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The Pornography Question

(Image Source: https://flic.kr/p/aWsHkX)

The Problem

This post comes as a response to the recent litigation by Mr Kamlesh Vaswani in the Supreme Court. While the international stance towards pornography has been to allow adults to access it generally but absolutely prohibit certain kinds of pornography such as child porn, Mr Vaswani has asked for a blanket ban. His main demand was that the court make watching pornography a non-bailable offence because he said that it was the main cause of rapes in this country. While his contention can and has been argued about on other forums, what concerns us is the technical part. Is it actually possible to regulate pornography on the internet? And what are the consequences of doing so? These are the questions that I will dwell upon in this blog post.

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