Free-speech activists and social media experts applauded the Supreme Court’s order to scrap a law that allowed police to arrest anyone posting “offensive” messages online, but many are still concerned about another section of the Information Technology Act that allowed blocking of websites and online content.User-content-driven companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, however, remained tight-lipped on Tuesday about how they see the upholding of Section 69A, under which content-blocking orders are issued, and websites blocked.
The government regularly asks companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter to take down content. According to latest data, India topped the list on content restriction requests received by Facebook in the second half of 2014 with more than 5,800 recorded requests. Google’s government removal requests from India until June 2013 totaled 163, while those received by Microsoft until June last year were 378.
Free-speech activists and Internet experts have time and again questioned the way these rules are implemented. While the rules for blocking websites and website links are clearly laid out, there are no clear procedures laid out for unblocking these.
“Yes, the challenge to 69A rules should have insisted on transparency,” said Mishi Choudhary, legal director at the SFLC.in