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section 66A

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).
03 August 2015

Section 66A of the Information Technology Act will be back on the statute books, with modifications, as per the current plan of the government, reported the PTI.

The ministry of home affairs has constituted a committee to examine the implications of the Supreme Court’s March judgment repealing the section, and to suggest changes in the section that will make it fully compatible with the constitution, according to telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s statement in the parliament.

Another committee chaired by former law commission secretary TK Vishwanathan will study the Supreme Court’s judgment and suggest a “road map” with measures and amendments.

Section 69A, which was also challenged before the Supreme Court but was not ruled unconstitutional in its judgment in March, was invoked by the government to block 857 porn sites in India this weekend, as reported by Legally India.