Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Attempt to muzzle the free expression

Union Telecom and HRD minister Kapil Sibal’s move to direct the social sites like Face Book, Twitter and other main internet service providers to pre-screen the contents before uploading them. According to the minister, several religiously offensive contents and disfigured picture of religious heads and big politicians are uploaded that may spark off clash and communal clash.

First of all, these social sites are guided by the law of their own countries and they are nothing to do what expression is liked or disliked by Indian Government. They have their in-built laws according to which they go by only. Google has very clearly and stated that until and unless the contents go against the law, it does not delete them. It does not delete contents only because they are controversial. The social sites have taken the right stand by not abiding by the Indian govt.’s ill-conceived idea to muzzle the freedom of expression.

In democracy, every one has got right to freedom of expression. People have got a very spacious platform in the form of social sites to expression their opinion and view without any hurdle and share with friends and others across the world. This is the essence of democracy. And any attempt to temper with it would have far reaching reactions.

The move of the UPA government to direct the social sites’ officials to pre-screen the contents manually, which is quite impossible in view of the crore of users who upload their views, opinions and pictures of their choice daily, is nothing but an indirect attempt to control the media.

Govt. appear to be scared of main stream media and social sites like Face Book, Twitter, Google, Yahoo and others if there their objective role is anything to go by during the Anna’s fast protest. UPA Govt was badly shaken and had to commit before Anna to bring and adopt the Lokpall Bill in the winter session of Parliament.

These days, the people express themselves freely about any issue on social sites and share them with their friends worldwide. The issues may be related to governance, personalities and any other activities taking place around the world. Social sites are the fastest in connecting the people with one another’s view at the click of the mouse. As the UPA govt. is facing several charges of corruption these day, people express their views freely against the government. That it does not. It is absolutely not possible for any one to express after taking permission from others. All are independent and have freedom to expression and wherever it is violated, law is already in place to act and punish. We have also cyber laws. If the contents are found to be offensive, cyber laws are already in place which must be implemented. This is the deliberate move to gag the free speech.

Govt. must attempt to muzzle the voice of the people in democracy. It must develop the habit to take its criticism to correct its lapse. Otherwise, government would be compelled to face the same consequences as it faced in the Lok Sabha elections after lifting Emergency in 1977. Press censorship was also imposed during the Emergency. And now it is an indirect attempt of UPA government to impose censorship on freedom of expression.

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