Take Down Censorship, not Free Speech
The Indian government, which this year already passed new content-removal rules for websites, now wants to take it a step further and censor some of the most-used websites like Google and Facebook — before the people of India even get to see the content!India’s Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal is asking internet and social media companies to proactively pre-screen user-generated content and remove it before it gets published. Really? This brazen attempt to silence expression online must not be tolerated and cannot be allowed to come to pass. We’ve seen the chilling effect these types of measures have in censorship regimes like China, Iran, and, Burma. Now India?
As more and more of India’s 1.2 billion people come online — internet usage is expected to triple over the next three years to 300 million users — we have to work together to ensure India’s right to information is protected and all our rights to view content, wherever we may live, are respected. The Minister is starting to hear the opposition to this law — now we need to turn up the pressure until he backs down. Sign below:
Currently, executives from companies like Google and Facebook are discussing this proposal with the Indian government. Besides the blatant violation of freedom of expression, prescreening puts an extraordinary burden on companies, would slow down the delivery of information, and makes corporations the arbiters of speech. Whether or not companies feel such screening is plausible, they cannot be asked to be the ones to determinine what is disparaging and what is not. With our collective voice, we have the opportunity to prevent this rights-restricting proposal before it gets off the ground!
Minister Sibal has said he endorses freedom of the press, but classifies speech on these sites as different. But we know there won’t be a free press without free speech online. Let’s call on the Indian government to endorse the democratic principle of freedom of speech by revising their content-removal rules and dropping this attempt to force companies to prescreen user generated content.
(The message above is from accessnow.org, posted here for discussion, with a suggestion that Chapter Members take a look at the petition and sign the petition)