Monday, May 7, 2012

SaveYourVoice campaign against internet censorship enters 5th day


Imagine a situation when our Facebook posts are being censored or each of our Skype conversations is being overheard. Suppose that our tweets or blogs, the private photographs and documents that we store and other such online activities are being by monitored by someone else other than us. Does it seem very implausible or void for something like this to happen? Well, it surely will happen if the IT Act 2011 is not annulled! 


On 11th April 2011, the Government notified the new Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011 prescribing various guiding principles to be observed by all internet related companies. These rules will:


1. Lead to a clamp down on the freedom of speech and expression enshrined in the Constitution of India by providing for a system of censorship/self-censorship by private parties;
2. Adversely affect the right to privacy of citizens by allowing Government agencies to access their information;
3. Will severely hamper the growth of internet penetration in India, and consequently lead to a slowdown of economic growth;
4. Limit the growth of various IT related industries and services (in particular cyber cafes, search engines and bloggers).
In addition, mandatory data retention would force the Internet Service Provider to create vast and expensive new databases of sensitive information about an individual. That information would then be available to the government, in secret and without any court oversight.
Sh. P. Rajeev, Hon'ble Member of the Rajya sabha has moved an  ANNULMENT MOTION  to get these rules abolished and the motion has been admitted and is expected to come up in this budget session. The Bangalore MP Rajeev Chandrashekar has spoken in Parliament in support. 

To support the ANNULMENT MOTION against IT Rules-2011 in the Rajya Sabha, Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi and Journalist Alok Dixit from 'Save Your Voice' started an open- ended hunger strike. Commencing on the  2nd of May, they were determined to carry on with their hunger strike until any satisfactory response from the government was received regarding the opposition of the annulment of the unconstitutional IT Rules-2011. The campaigners wanted to convey to the government that they cannot use vaguely defined laws and loopholes to take away the freedom of speech and expression of the common men.


During the past five days (2-6 May), people from various streams and in favour of this cause had visited the campaigning activists at Jantar Mantar, and helped to keep their motive intact. On the fourth day, they were visited by Arvind Gaur, Director of Asmita Theatre (New delhi) and a few of his associates. Arvind, who is known for his work in innovative socially and politically relevant theatre, has conveyed his word that he would extend his support for the fight for Freedom of Speech & Expression in a full-fledged manner. He is also against the implementation of the IT Act and says that internet, which is the most important 'tool of expression' of the common men, should be provided 'free' and not brought under any rules. The activists were grateful for his encouraging visit.


On the fifth day of the FREEDOM FAST (6 May), the two activists on hunger
strike had also stopped drinking water so that their ‘Freedom Fast’ could gain support from other activists in huge numbers. Towards evening some policemen arrived at the spot (Jantar Mantar) and due to their persuasion, Alok and Aseem got themselves admitted in Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. The doctors complained of low blood pressure as well as a low pulse rate of both the activists after thorough examination. They were put on a dose of glucose immediately thereafter. However, both the activists are determined to carry on with their hunger strike till they receive considerable response from the parties and the government in support of the Annulment Motion. 


Alok and Aseem are struggling for 'all of us'. Everyone enjoys using internet for various purposes... Can you imagine WWW being put 'behind the bars'? So why not act to stop the government from making INTERNET a 'captive'? Come and join us, and be a part of this movement for 'freedom of expression and speech'.

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