After being in the dock for carrying 'objectionable' content, Google and Facebook, along with15 other websites, are fighting for what they call internet freedom. Wikipedia went dark to protest the Web Piracy Bill being introduced in the US. afaqs! speaks to industry experts to find out if a move to monitor content can backfire.
CEO, STAR CJ Live
How big is this UGC thing anyway? Take a relatively small example. Twitter crossed 200 million tweets a day in June, 2011. At even 5 per cent compounded monthly growth rate, that should have ballooned to 280 million a day now. And, we haven't even begun talking about Facebook. Unless, of course, you choose to do a PR China and simply firewall it right out of reach.
Guess what! It isn't going to work because everyone will start figuring our proxy servers. Or perhaps you, or someone called Sybil or Sillable or Sibaling Rivalry (whatever) decided to say, to hell with Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. In which case, there is, quite literally, nothing left to say.
My 13-year-old figured out how to beat Net Nanny when she was 10. And someone thinks he can have a Net Supernanny to cover everyone?
That ship has sailed. Deal with it.
This is a classic case of shoot the messenger who brings bad news. Just because a website brings up objectionable content on a search does not make it punishable. What is right and wrong is a matter of judgment, and is totally subjective.
On a lighter note, to know why Wikipedia was blacked out for a day, one will have to probably refer to Wikipedia itself!
Executive director, Centre for Internet and Society
The World Wide Web has, for most parts, gone extinct. Under the Information Technology Act 2000, amended in 2008, take-down notices can be sent to remove illegal content. Our research indicates that even the largest national and international intermediaries happily over-comply with frivolous complaints and only bother about freedom of expression when it undermines their business models. Unfortunately, the IT Act and its associated rules have severely diluted free speech rights for Indians. Now, the government hopes to convince intermediaries to dilute their own terms of reference and step-up enforcement levels.
We should not fool ourselves into thinking that private sector companies like Google will defend our fundamental rights. The next Parliament session is the last opportunity for parliamentarians to ask for the revocation of the rules for intermediaries, cyber-cafes and reasonable security practices.
On the other hand, sites like Google and Facebook, which are in the dock for carrying objectionable content, are being plain arrogant. They have forgotten their purpose for being here. These companies must realise that just because we Indians have a great press and judicial system, they do not have the freedom to publish anything that is derogatory to our culture. In my view, they are behaving like spoilt American brats, who have no respect for another culture, mythology and values.
The fake IPL player
Co-founder, Pitch Invasion
For far too long, the political class has survived and thrived by keeping the media in covert and overt control, thereby directing public opinion where they wanted. Online social media has changed the rules of this game.
The medium isn't the criminal. Acting against a medium is worse than even shooting the messenger.
The new age citizen is a different animal from any of the past. More aware, more travelled, more opinionated and more demanding. This is a species you try to control at your own peril. But, if you try to embrace it in the right spirit, it will reciprocate in kind.
The constitution gives us the right to voice our opinions without fear. The same constitution also prohibits us from spreading lies, defaming people, inciting violence or acting in an anti-national manner.
India needs an environment of freedom and fearlessness because without this, we will be nothing but 'a China with poor infrastructure'.