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IT Act

23 March 2016

The National Human Rights Commission today issued notice to the Chhattisgarh government in connection with the alleged wrongful detention and torture of a journalist , who is a human rights activist.

The state chief secretary and director general of police have been asked to submit a factual report in the matter within two weeks.

According to the commission, journalist Prabhat Singh was picked up by policemen in plainclothes from his shop without notice or warning on 21 March evening, and charged under Section 67 and 67(a) of the IT Act for disseminating allegedly obscene material over WhatsApp.

“He was taken to the Parpa police station, beaten up and tortured all night and even deprived of food and water,” a commission statement said.

Read more here .

30 October 2015

According to internet freedom watchdog Freedom House, “Internet freedom in India has improved in the past year” in its report of 65 countries, with India having seen “positive developments relating to ‘regulatory framework, declining detentions for online speech and burgeoning digital access’”, reported the WSJ, following the Supreme Court striking down section 66A _of the _IT Act:

More than half of the countries included in the report saw online freedom deteriorate since June 2014, the report said.India improved its measure on two criteria: the obstacles to Internet access and violations of user rights. Its total score went up from 42 to 40, with Internet penetration leaping from 5% to 18% in the past five years. The lower the score, the better the country’s Internet freedom.

Full India country report available here:

Key Developments: 
Key Developments
  • The Supreme Court struck down Section 66A of the IT Act in 2015, which had been the cause of several arrests for online speech, particularly on social media (see Legal Environment).
  • Though the Supreme Court also upheld the IT Act’s Section 69A, which authorizes government blocking of online content, it did make the blocking process more transparent, and strengthened intermediary liability protection (see Blocking and Filtering and Content Removal).
  • Website blocks ordered by the government or the courts temporarily affected entire platforms, such as Vimeo or Google Docs (see Blocking and Filtering).
  • In April 2015, over 1 million people rallied to protect net neutrality and prevent regulation allowing telecommunications providers to charge extra for select services (see Digital Activism).
20 August 2015

The Hindustan Times’ Aloke Tikku reported:

A first-of-its-kind set of statistics compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reveals that 2,402 people, including 29 women, were arrested in 4,192 cases under section 66A — which was struck down in March by the Supreme Court that ruled that it violated the constitutional freedom of speech.

These arrests made up nearly 60% of all arrests under the IT Act, and 40% of arrests for cyber crimes in 2014. It was also a little less than twice the number of people caught red-handed accepting bribes the same year.

“These statistics are shocking. I had assumed there may be a few hundred cases, at worst,” said Shreya Singhal, on whose petition the top court had scrapped the provision.

Also read: Behind the scenes: How 90+ lawyers & 3 judges created the biggest free speech judgment in more than half a century

04 August 2015

Oops, we copy-pasted it wrong“I reject with contempt the charge that it is a Talibani government, as being said by some of the critics. Our government supports free media,” said telecoms minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, saying that ISPs were ordered today to unblock websites that did not contain pornography that were accidentally included in the secret list of 857 pornographic sites to be blocked in India online.

02 August 2015

Khajuraho Lakshmana Temple: Not yet blockedIndian internet service providers (ISPs) received a notice from the Department of Telecommunications (DOT) two days ago (31 July), ordering the blocking of 857 websites, many of which appeared to host pornography, according to an authoritative source at an ISP.

24 April 2015

Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra is still anxious a month after the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a controversial law that led to his arrest for e-mailing a cartoon mocking West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

01 April 2015

In Numbers: Via MintDespite all the legal firepower involved, it was far from certain that the case would go the way it did.

25 March 2015

"New Delhi authorities on Wednesday asked India’s federal information technology ministry to block the taxi-hailing apps of US -based Uber and its local rival Ola in the city in a bid to enforce a ban on the companies’ services,” reported Reuters.

However, QZ reported last year that blocking of services such as Uber, which rent servers in the cloud, could prove to be “practically impossible without accidentally blocking other services”.

24 March 2015

Social media was abuzz this morning as Supreme Court justices J Chelameswar and Rohinton Fali Nariman read down section 66A of the Information Technology Act, though upheld section 69A that allows the central government to block entire websites.

05 February 2015

Pseudonyms such as “Obama” and “Putin” will no longer be available to Chinese citizens who wish to hide their identity on the internet, following new internet restrictions implemented by the country’s authorities

09 December 2014

Ben Franklin would have loved arguing A high stakes case was part-argued today by government and petitioners on the constitutional validity of certain sections of the Information Technology Act 2000.

04 December 2014

"Heavens are not going to fall if the provisions are stayed. This matter cannot be treated lightly. Two years have passed and there is no definite answer from you [Centre]… either you file your affidavit or we will stay the operation of these provisions,” said Supreme Court Justice J Chelameswar yesterday in a case challenging the operation of sections 66A and 74 of the Information Technology Act, reported the Indian Express and others.

NDTV reported that the petition was brought by Faisal Farooqui, founder of reviews website Mouthshut.com, in a bid to challenge the draconian and vague anti-free speech law that requires those who host content to remove objectionable or offensive content (s66A) or face three years in jail, with intermediaries facing two years in jail for not complying (s74).

The next hearing is scheduled for 9 December.

29 October 2014

An Andhra Pradesh law student was arrested under the IT Act, presumably section 66A, and the IPC, for allegedly posting a comment on Facebook in English and Telugu that stated “I love u hudhoodh”, referring to the destructive cyclone and noting that it was taking revenge against “betrayers”, reported The Hindu, with NDTV translating it as: "I love you hudhud for nature having selectively punished those who cheated - feeling God is there".

A CID press release said that he “posted irresponsible anti-people comments in the Facebook after the natural disaster Hududh”. The student is reportedly a member of the YSR Congress Party, which is in opposition in AP

21 October 2014

A Bangalore-based businessman was arrested and jailed by police for 21 days in April under section 66A of the IT Act for “spreading canards” about another on online forums, reported The Hindu (via Pranesh Prakash).

The businessman has filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and demanded a police inquiry that his arrest was in direct contravention of the Supreme Court guidelines that detentions under Section 66A for sending offensive messages over the internet require permission from a high-ranking police officer (inspector general in cities, or, in districts, deputy commissioners or superintendents).

16 April 2014

The National Stock Exchange (NSE) has alleged that Hyderabad-based firm Manshi Systems has been selling customers access to a subscription-only NSE service. The stock exchange has now started proceedings in the Bombay high court against the firm and, significantly, also against the Indian subsidiary of the firm's web hosting company GoDaddy, which is the world's largest domain name registrar.

The NSE is represented by Krishna and Saurastri Associates partner Manish Saurastri. Cyber lawyer Pavan Duggal told Mint that under the IT Act, intermediaries, such as GoDaddy, would have to prove in court that they had exercised due diligence against copyright infringement.

The story did not specify whether GoDaddy, which apparently manages 57m domain names, received and ignored any takedown requests from the NSE before the court case, or whether it otherwise failed to be diligent in spotting the allegedly infringing service. [Mint]

20 March 2014

"Mumbai cops cite s66A language, seek to block articles against police Chief," tweets @karunanundy ['Offending' article] [Notice via @svaradarajan]

19 March 2014

Madras HC Justice CT Selvam gets whistleblower website Savukku blocked, which allegedly damaged the "reputation and status of not less than half a dozen judges, very many advocates, IAS and IPS officers" and also allegedly contains articles about the judge himself. After a PIL filed by a journalist, Selvam reportedly said that the contents of the posts were "demeaning, obnoxious and harmful" but according to reports no specific provision of law or procedure was used in the block [Medianama / TheNewsMinute]