Security, Internet Rights and Principles: Power Shifts and Implications for Internet Policy-Making in India

Colin Agur, Valerie Belair-Gagnon and Ramesh Subramanian are undertaking a research project about internet policy in India as part of the CGCS’s Internet Policy Observatory.[i]

Of the South Asian countries, India alone has a record as a strong democracy that protects free expression in its law and constitution.[ii] Nevertheless, its record on internet free speech has been uneven, with a history of overt censorship and blocking of sites. A 2007 report by the OpenNet Initiative tested several internet service providers (ISPs) in India and found evidence of government filtering for sites whose contents related to national unity or national security. Other incidents include: the blocking of all Yahoo Groups in September 2003 after Yahoo refused to block access to a the group Kynhun, which promoted the secession of Meghalaya from India; the blocking of the extremist web site www.hinduunity.org in April 2004; and the blocking of seventeen web sites, including blog sites, after the 2006 Mumbai bombings.

Government attempts to filter and block sites have usually encountered strong resistance from activists and the media. However, in December 2008, in the weeks following the Mumbai terrorist attacks, Indian lawmakers hurriedly passed an amendment to the IT Act of 2000 with little debate or…

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