India Descends Into Extreme Internet Censorship
from the censorship-in-effect dept
A year and a half ago, we noted some new laws and plans for laws in India that would likely lead to widespread censorship of the internet in that country, and a commenter on that post just alerted us to the news that some of these ridiculous new laws have gone into effect. They’re incredibly vague, and get the liability question backwards, demanding that ISPs proactively police and remove content that is “objectionable,” “disparaging,” “harassing,” “blasphemous” and “hateful.” Talk about vague. Suddenly, service providers have incentive to over aggressively block all sorts of stuff, just to avoid liability. The law also requires sites to remove content within 36 hours if law enforcement says it’s objectionable — without even notifying whoever put that content up. Think how easy this is to abuse by anyone in government who just doesn’t like some type of content. Such a law is clearly a censorship law.
Bizarrely, the Indian government insists that there’s nothing wrong with these laws, and that they’re “comparable to any international cyber laws.” Here’s the thing: the spokesperson is right if you include copyright laws. Copyright laws, such as the DMCA, are really the only equivalent international laws (if you’re not talking about some place like China, which the Indian government insists it’s not) that allow for such a takedown upon notice. So, realistically, it appears that India is justifying its broad censorship laws with US copyright laws. Of course, we’ve been saying for a while that more countries would do this, but copyright maximalists continue to insist that’s crazy.