India’s Internet Restrictions

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The Indian government has recently toughened the Internet censorship in the country. The new rules are an update of the IT Act 2000. It regulates the content of online posts. Indian officials claim that the new measures are in tune with international laws and do not violate users’ rights

According to the regulations, Indian users are not allowed to post information which is "grossly harmful, harassing, blasphemous,  defamatory, obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, libellous, invasive of another's privacy, hateful, racially or ethnically objectionable, disparaging, relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling, or otherwise unlawful in any manner whatsoever".

The Department of Information Technology can block websites that display content of the type mentioned above. Any citizen can demand the blocking of content that they consider to be objectionable. The task of doing the "dirty job" will lie with the Internet service providers and websites that publish user-generated content.

Even though the Indian government is attempting to regulate the published content, it does not agree with web anonymity. The rules require that cyber cafes store data about their customers including their name, address, photo and browsing history, making it possible to find a person who has placed prohibited data on the Internet with the help of a public computer. The cyber cafe owners are obliged to keep a one-year log of all sites accessed by their users. The rules insist that "all the computers in the cyber cafe shall be equipped with safety/filtering software, in order to avoid access to websites that contain pornography, obscenity, terrorism and other objectionable material."

The government says that these measures are essential for preventing crimes. But a lot of users consider many points to be vague and don’t agree with the new rules, because they can violate their right to free speech. They are afraid that any thoughtless comment can be a reason for arrest. But it seems that VPN service providers can gain from these type of rules.

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