Limited Access Restricting Expression on the Status of Internet Freedoms in India
The Digital Empowerment Foundation released its Country Research Report titled “Limited Access Restricting Expression” on the status of Internet freedoms in India.
The report aims to assess the state of specific internet rights online; specifically, under the following 6 parameters: 1) Arbitrary blocking or filtering 2) Criminalization of legitimate expression 3) Imposition of intermediary liability 4) Right to privacy and data protection 5) Cyber-crime & cyber-attacks 6) Access & disconnecting users from the internet.
These parameters are adapted from the APC-La Rue Framework, a checklist of indicators developed by APC based on the work and recommendations of Frank La Rue, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression.
Stressing on the 6 indicators Osama presented an overview of the recommendations of the reports which are as follows:
- Government should be transparent in terms of blocking, filtering and removal of the content and comply with international standards.
- The CMS and UID systems be reviewed and reformed in line with international standards regarding the right to privacy.
- The government, in collaboration with stakeholders expand quality internet access in a transparent, accountable, and affordable manner and become aware of and begin exercising internet rights as part of basic human rights in the 21st century.
- NHRC incorporate internet rights as part of their approach to human rights, as articulated by the UN-HRC. This step would raise awareness about internet rights.
- Civil society organisations collaborate with private sector, government, industry bodies and educational institutions to raise awareness about internet rights, within the human rights framework, particularly FoE and FoAA among grassroots citizens.
- NHRC and the State Human Rights Commissions to have more independence and power of enforcement in particular to ensure their recommendations.
- Administrative and law enforcement officials be provided with guidance, directives and training to uphold FoE online and offline.
- Law enforcement authorities be held liable and accountable for human rights violations by an independent and democratic oversight body and court of law.
- Individuals and communities should be able to seek financial and other resources, in a timely, equitable, transparent and accountable manner to exercise their FoE rights.
- Consistent oversight of blocking of internet based content by competent authority be set up on a regular basis so that arbitrary actions are ruled out.
- Victims of violations and abuses to rights of FoE have the right to effective remedy and redress in the court of law.
The speech was followed by, the Country Research Report launched by Dr. Johann Hesse – Head of Corporation, Representative of EU delegation to India; Arvind Gupta – National Technology Head, BJP; Mishi Choudhary – Executive Director, SFLC, Osama Manzar, Subho Ray – President, Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), Nikhil Dey – Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) Member and Deepak Maheshwari – Director, Govt. Affairs, India & ASEAN, Symantec Corporation.