Section 66A,the mystery of Indian Internet Governance- A QnA with Saikat Datta

The all round criticism and outcry at Indian Online Governance and the controversial Section 66A of the IT Act need no introduction.But, as a blogger, I thought it to be prudent to hear about it from someone who is mainstream and affected by it. Presenting Saikat Datta,Bureau Chief,DNA New Delhi. As an active twitter user(@saikatd) and an important figure in the media, I thought he is the perfect person to talk to about this.Here’s the QnA

1.As a prominent member of the fourth pillar of Democracy, what’s your definition of free speech?What does “freedom of expression” constitute in your dictionary?

Freedom of speech means the freedom to anything is permissible under Indian laws and also tolerance for all views. The lack of any form of censorship, subtle or overt is abominable.

2.The very vaguely worded Section 66A has caused a lot of controversy pertaining to freedom of expression on the Internet.Being an active Twitter user, what are your views on it?

There is no need for such a section. There are adequate laws in force. The Constitution sought to enshrine fundamental rights. Our laws are now creating a situation where we have fundamental restrictions now.

3.In today’s India, where the media,social activists and citizens are leading a revolution, where does freelance blogging figure?

I am not sure there is a “revolution” yet, but there is definitely a greater democratisation of news and information. This will ensure that there is a greater freedom of expression and more accessibility to information and its dissemination.

4.The media, on multiple counts has been accused of being biased or “stooges of political parties”. How do you answer them?

There could be some truth is the media subscribing to some political ideology. Or even the establishment. But this has to be understood in a context. Are the people ready to pay for the news they seek? Unless and until you pay for news, how will news be free from commercial or political pressure?

8.Some advice to budding journalists or media personnel

I would say budding journalists should try and spend time learning and perfecting their craft. This is a fascinating profession where constant learning is a challenge and a source of unending joy. Finally, specialise.

9.Lastly, a word to The Standing Coin readers
Welcome to journalism. It always needs a few good women and men

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Censoring of the Internet, Right or Wrong?

For the past few days, India has been in an uproar over an outrageously bold idea by Mr.Kapil Sibal according to which the Internet should be censored. All of the NETizens have struck back tagging it from a vicious attack to the blabbering of a stupid bafoon. However I am somewhat in favour of this (Hold your guns people, let me explain). Although I am totally against the censoring of posts which affect a cause or a movement or something which is impersonal to the extent of us expressing our right to free speech, I wish to point out that the same rights protect all of us and them.Censoring of the internet to ban child pornography, virus-infested pages and sexual harrasement (fake or real naked pictures that are circulated faster than the speed of light) is viable, wanted and if implemented, is definitely appreciated. However when the government wishes to stop us from fighting for what we really believe in and has no ramifications to the morality of a proper society, outrage is expected and applauded for.Let me back up with an example.A few days ago, when I opened Youtube, the featured videos list included “School Girl Raped In the Toilet” and “Bollywood Actress Nude!”.This shocked me to no extent because that was the day when Mr.Sibal announced his censoring idea.It shames me to say that politicians are more worried about a teenager’s status update regarding his corrupt nature than a the outrageously bold manouver of destroying the image of an already victimised teenaged girl whose pain and anguish is not describable in words.

So, I just wish to sum up with an advice to all of us (not you but us because I am as much a part of the internet as you all are). Instead of fighting the idea of internet censoring,let’s fight for the censoring of things that need to be censored;and while we are at it, let’s start using the “Report as Spam” button which we are given.Now to the NETizen named Kapil Sibal, I will just say one thing.”Chill Dude! Post all your ideas on forums,discussion boards or as your own status on social networks,check the response and then start off with media interactions because you know what?WE choose you;You don’t get to choose us!”

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