India government: 'net should not be censored

Except, of course, when it should

India's communications and IT minister, tasked with attracting foreign investors to the country's tech sector, has defended controversial IT laws while saying that Internet censorship should be minimal.

Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad made the remarks to The Hindu Business Line in response to criticisms of Section 66 of the country's IT Act.

While many countries forbid using telecommunications services to menace or threaten, the Indian law goes further by criminalising the publication of false information for, among other things, the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience.

As a result, as Index on Censorship notes, Facebook posts are increasingly landing individuals in front of the courts. For example, The Indian Express reports a 25-year-old Muslim youth has been charged for a Facebook post that included a derogatory comment about the national flag.

Prashad has dismissed such concerns, telling Business Line that Section 66 applies “only in extreme cases, here the Internet medium is used to incite violence and communal hatred”, and that's when “censorship can be contemplated”.

Prashad added that “constitutional assurance” exists to protect individuals, since “section 66 cannot transcend the freedom of speech” rights in India's constitution. ®

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