GD Monday – “The Government should openly regulate the internet” – Week 2

For all those coming across ‘GD Monday’ for the first time this week, here is how Week 1 of ‘GD Monday’ went.. (All the comments/views in the discussion have been rated on a scale of 10 by our experts with an explanation)

 Taking the series forward, last month has seen a lot of catharsis – in the form of people pouring out on the streets, or pouring their emotions out on the internet. We saw how two girls were booked under Section 66A of the Information Technology Act for a Facebook post. The law states that people can face up to three years’ jail for electronic communications that “grossly” offend or cause “annoyance or inconvenience”, or, in case of information known to be false, cause “danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, or ill will”.

Can we still exercise our fundamental rights? Are we being trapped in legalese? How much control is too much control? In what spheres is this control justified in the first place? Should the Government and DoT  just be more open about the controls they exercise? You decide.. Happy discussing!

 This is how it will work :

1) Users can post their arguments or views using their Twitter/Wordpress/OpenID accounts in the comments section below.

2) You can argue and counter-argue on the topic for the entire week.

3) The thread will be moderated by Prerna Lalwani a.k.a Peru to ensure the discussion is kept relevant and is not abusive.

4) On Saturday, experts and industry professionals at InsideIIM (all ex-IIM,XLRI,ISB only) will rate each argument on the thread on the scale of 10 with some guidance.

This cannot replace the experience of the actual GD but this exercise will surely help you shape your line of thought. While we may not be able to help you here with your delivery, we ensure that if you go through these next few weeks with us on this thread you will markedly improve your content. Hopefully, there will be more substance when you actually speak in a GD after going through this exercise.

To participate in the Week 1 GD – “Priyanka Gandhi should be the Prime Minister of India” – Click here

Meanwhile, you may want to orient yourself with Interviews and Group Discussion. She is the best in the business and you must listen to her – Mrs. Deepali Naair

 

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Comments

32 comments

Ronak Parekh

Completely agreeing or disagreeing to whether the Government should openly regulate the internet is unreasonable. The positive aspects of implementing such a policy is that the Government can stop piracy or pornography. The negative aspects is that it can use it to their advantage to stop people from voicing their opinions the latest example being the arrest of two girls over facebook post.
There is a very fine line between safe regulation and Internet freedom. Whether the Government can walk the fine line remains to be seen.

@InsideIIM

6/10. Good Opening. Sounds Balanced. However, flatters to deceive. Could have made it a brilliant opening by adding a little depth. Piracy and Pornography are valid but too limiting. There are other wider issues that could have been mentioned. The Facebook girls arrest was a police mistake and not necessarily driven by the government.

Karan Arora

Government controlling over internet is a tool of people in power to crab the freedom of common man and to prevent any voice raised against any wrong doing of "Government" . Its simply not justified in democratic country under any condition until its done to prevent any harm to the sentiment of nation or to threat of national security .And all the track records of government indicates its utilization to suppress the voice of common man against it. In today`s globalized world internet is the only platform to express one opinion about any situation taking place in which ever geographic location.

Ashita

Agree completely. But what about people who use the internet to incite mobs? Or what about situations when the internet can be used to divulge data which is sensitive? How does one draw the line between this extreme & the one that demands freedom of expression? Think about it 🙂

Karan Arora

As I have mentioned in my view point that Government could use its power to stop any unjustified element which are threat to national interest .And for doing so a separate body legal body should be established to work as watchdog over such issue . And its member`s should be free from any political connection or background

@InsideIIM

6/10. You regained some lost ground here. But still insufficient to make a big difference to your chances after your previous howler. (Karan Arora's response to Ashita's retort)

@InsideIIM

7/10. Good retort but you shouldn't have used the words "Agree completely" to start. We advocate you do not explicitly spell out whether you agree or disagree with anyone in a GD.

@InsideIIM

3/10. Very biased and makes sweeping generalizations. You'll struggle with such statements – "all the track records of government indicates its utilization to suppress the voice of common man against it"

Arun Kota

Laws are always a double edge sword. it can be used if a person really misuses a platform like internet where lot many people get influenced so government/authorities should have some control over the same. on the other hand it has malicious effect wer this law is used for the personal r party gain. so there should be a separate authority to monitor this n take appropriate action linkin with the direct police who has minimal knowledge on how these kind of post effect will not help in real world. Moreover internet should be free to use platform it shouldn't be restricted much, we saw that wen egypt r libya revolution took place thru twitter/fb.

@InsideIIM

3.5/10. Good intent but poor articulation. If this is how you talk you wont be very coherent. A lot of sentences above are very difficult to decipher.

vikram

As mentioned in the previous posts, internet/social networking sites had played a major part in the recent revolutions aross the globe. Even in India, the recent mass uprisings against corruption and crime against females have had their roots as the networking sites. At the same time, the same SNS had been used to create hatred against some specific groups, which is a definite concern for the national security.

Now coming to the point, our fundamental rights are under threat if the govt. acts the way they have acted recently. The control over the posts in online forum/networking sites which goes viral is a definite yes, but with more open set of regulations clearly predefined by the govt. And, considering the political influence in the nation, an unbiased regulatory body is a must .

anikethr08

Internet is a source of information which you can either use or misuse.
Forming a body that would regulate the internet to stop the spread of wrongdoings will not go a long way in helping us.

The chaotic internet needs to be regulated just like germany blocks illegal websites and the chinese too monitor the stuffs online.
Proper regulatory laws need to be made but will regulating posts,comments,videos online suffice??
The onus is on the youth who should act wisely and use the internet in a way that it proves to be a boon and not a bane.
The govt can only lend a helping hand.
It is we who need to stand up to the occasion and act wisely.

@InsideIIM

4/10. Very vague. Goes all over the place. "It is we who need to stand up to the occasion and act wisely."- Irrelevant globe statement. No one clean idea is expressed properly here.

Tushar Gupta

There can't be regulation on the private internet space of an individual.It would be violation of the basic constitutional right,"The right to freedom of expression", of the citizen. Such curbs are not the signs of a healthy democracy where every citizen has the right to voice his opinions. In the past, there have been instances where the Gov. has used the IT act under section 66A and the sedition act under section 124A for arresting people voicing their concerns on sensitive issues and often for meeting political ends.
On the flipside, internet regulation on matters of internal security of the nation or for getting rid of the menace would be a welcome move.

@InsideIIM

7/10. Sounds mature. States a couple of sections of the IT Act which will always help. Good articulation. However, could have taken the argument to a new level if extra angles to the discussion were added.

@theholykiller

Internet is the tool that has transformed our world in an astonishing way and it derives its power from the freedom it offers. Freedom and openness is intrinsic to internet. There has been umpteen examples where it has become the voice of the people. It is the epicenter of modern revolutions. It played a vital role in the jasmine revolution.Any regulations on internet would mean curbing the voice of millions of people who are suppressed by their govt. Instead we should strive to provide free internet to all as a means of empowerment. Hillary Clinton also advocated the same. At one time computers were also considered a menace causing job loss but that has now been evidently proved wrong.

@InsideIIM

7/10. Good articulation. But the last sentence takes shine off your argument. It has no relevance to the topic and sounds completely unrelated. Also, the argument only pitches for complete openness ignoring pitfalls of unregulated internet and lacks a little balance in that respect. With a little more practise you'll do even better.

Rohit

What I understand from the topic is the regulation of Social Media by the Government.

Media is the fourth pillar of democracy and the the advent of social media through the internet has given a new dimension to the exercise of Right to Express guaranteed by the Constitution.
The purpose of regulation is something which we need to understand. To gag the voice of the people is seriously not an effective way to escape dissent. Tahrir Square is a fine example of the power of the internet. There are opinions regarding the need to control the spread of communal disharmony but that simply cannot be used as a reason to freely regulate the internet. It should be monitored, no noubt. Infact, we all are subject to monitoring on a regular basis but when the govt. frames a legal mechanism for it, then its bound to do more harm than good.

@InsideIIM

7/10. Impressive pitch. Brought in Tahrir Square, internet as a new means exercise ROE etc. But again lacks a certain depth to make the pitch truly great. You could brush up on facts and figures around the IT Act in India, cite more global examples etc. to differentiate yourself from others in the GD.

@InsideIIM

One thing noticed in all comments above is that , no one seems to have focussed on the fact that it is not the law itself but the interpretation which could be a problem. When a vague law is open for interpretation, a lot of authorities are likely to misuse it. Also, no one talked about education of the police force or the authorities about the law in the first place. Another aspect missing is that no brought any statistics on how many requests were sent by which countries to behemoths like Google, Facebook to regulate their platforms. Where is the data to support your arguments? No one talked about Julian Assange and wikileaks!

Rohit

I agree..For Julian Assange, I thought it would be proper if its used to rebutt when the discussion gathers steam…was not sure if this should be used in the introductory lines from my side… Also I want to ask whether the recent Mumbai arrest case misusing the IT Act could have been brought up or it would have become too general..

Pushpendra

well according it goes well with the proverb “you dont ride the beast unless you know how to tame it”.

free press and social media is also the same, if there are no regulatory measures they will roam free in their air, caring little for the privacy of people and moreover with the degraded and careless pursuits. if we were living in utopia i would agree to the free internet notion but sadly we are not. there are all kinds of people and again sadly not all are good. people must act in responsible ways.

I must not be mistaken for an authoritarian someone asking to filter every content but we must know how to filter the things that are not good. i think there could be an independent body looking into the contents and censorship, not necessarily govt. people must be allowed to to express everything they want unless its not harmful to the society at large and it should also respect the individuality of people.

in the end i would like an illustration ,you are allowed to write anything about Mr.X as long as you are not hurting the sentiments of supporters or people in opposition.

@InsideIIM

4.5/10. Long drawn out speech which adds precious little to the discussion at the end. A lot of speakers have already made the point you have made. So what's the new contribution?

pushpendra

well i am sorry but i wasnt adding anything i was just presenting my views, i wasnt on for a discussion and that is already very difficult to do here. these are just my views and i am not countering or "Discussing" it. i just got here its not like i would have waited for everyone to put their points and then compile them up to write here.

@JainBharatS

As i understand, the topic is inclining towards- can the govt regulate the freedom of the citizens?
of course No. Not even govt has the authority to control and regulate the internet.. with the recent events ,like two girls being imprisoned coz of the stauts updates- it shows that we still are not prepared to take the criticisms.. and hence, want to take control of the freedom in the country by not giving the people a platform to speak (lke FB, twitter etc)..

But india is a country with so many religions, varied cultures, soft issues(babri masjid or godra kand), consisting of completely different views which makes the govt to step in, in order to not ignite another brawl. that was the reason that govt had to regulate the messages coz of rumours relating to the riots in assam.
also, if it is regarding secret documents or classified inf, the govt must step in to take that under control, as it is their duty to protect the nation.. hence, if required, we may have to allow the govt to take the control and defuse the bomb (before exploding).

kerry

The government should not control all the activities of the internet. Every citizen is entitled to its own personal space , freedom of expressions and freedom of speech. By giving the control to regulate internet, the identity of a person will be lost. As evident from the recent incidents, on expressing views through facebook and twitter, people have been charged and their families have been troubled. This type of regulation is unfair and not valid.

Though Internet being so diverse , some amount of control should be in hands of the government which would not strangles the personal space of a citizen. The hacking incidents, making a fake profile, abusing someone- such type of incidents need to be controlled. And by providing authority to government such incidents can be regulated.

H.S.

Everyone here is using the buzzword 'Freedom of Speech' as its top most agenda but guys Freedom goes in only so far as it doesn't demean somebody else's freedom. Its not about Regulation of 'Internet' but regulation in general.With Internet as new Earth and my online avatar as new me if not controlled can caused disruption of utmost proportion .Internet With the sheer power of its immediate reach to the masses, if not regulated, could turn havoc. These regulations are important for national security,public safety and cyber terrorism to name a few but the crux is that the law surrounding Internet like 66A are in evolving stage just like internet which is evolving. Its not laws but interpretation and implementation which is taking the sheen away.Laws like 66A are open to different interpretation which can land you in jail even if your talk is private in closed group or via email communication between friends (66A subsection 'C'). We need moderation just like your blog where you want your comment to be made public in so far it don't tarnish your image and so moderated by you and stakes are higher when nation is on the line. False rumor can be amplified and can create mayhem before truth can be found which by the time will be too late and almost irrevocable.Instead of letting go off regulation completely, amendment should be made in current law drawing fine line between of freedom of speech aspect (like blogs getting banned voicing against politicians) and legal offense (like piracy,cyber crime). Within time what we will see in place is transformation just like other constitutional laws which has made us to live our life peacefully.

@RahulAdwani

First of all, it completely varies from one individual/organisation to another on how they get offended. For example, some governments have banned some big websites like Google & YouTube in their respective countries while some are in consultations with them to use the data they provide in order to solve some major issues like poverty & unemployment.
In short, the interpretation of the statement stated under the Section 66A of the IT Act can be very subjective. On one hand, The Internet was a main reason of spreading awareness about the recent brutal rape case incident and eventually lead to peaceful protests across the country in order to constitute a stronger law against rape cases and on the other hand it lead an extremist organisation to pressurize local police to arrest two innocent victims for expressing their opinions on their social networking pages.

Second, ultimate freedom has a higher probability of heading towards chaos, hence there ought to be a regulation/regulatory authority which can start by learning through the incidents that have already happened. Rather than taking actions by getting offended, the authority can use certain measures like public poll in order to predict the kind of general public response one would get on a particular post on Facebook or blog, whether it can lead to mayhem or people would just ignore it & accordingly take actions. This would ensure a greater transparency in the regulatory actions.

@Shazont2t

Well yes there are variations in the way people view their personal space/ freedom and how they get offended but when we are making laws or regulating something in a country as big as India with countless stakeholders, one needs to consider the opinion of the majority as the final line and ask others to exercise their freedom within those lines. Regarding the example of other governments banning Google & YouTube are communist, not democratic which by the concept itself gives all the power in the hands of its citizen.
Internet media has enabled people to voice their opinion, viz. recent uproar on the Delhi rape case, India Against Corruption movement last year et.al, who earlier would have munched on such news till they were part of the dustbin. Internet media has definitely resulted in positive outcomes like the setting up of fast track courts for dealing with crimes related to sexual offences, concept of home guard in buses for increased safety etc. There will however be collateral damage in the form of rumors, insinuations, dissemination of false information, but I believe internet does greater good than harm and should remain largely unregulated, if it is not a case of national security, till the time we come up with laws which address the cons of it and cannot be misinterpreted. I say this because if its regulated now then it will be misused and will drive people away from voicing their opinions, concerns like what could have happened in the mumbai girl facebook post case. Slowly and steadily we will reach there but in the process we need to make sure that the unique platform provided by internet is not lost.