One of our favorite Pune Bloggers, Dhananjay Nene, has written a blog post analysing the the Information Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2006, that was passed by the Indian Parliament last month. He has described the important points of the bill like:
- Wireless networks are now added to the defintion of computer networks
- The “hacking a computer system” offense is expanded to include sending and forwarding of material that is offensive, intimidating, etc.
- Definition of pornography is slightly expanded. (And transmission and publication is an offense, but as far as Dhananjay can make out, consumption of pornography is not an offense.)
But Dhananjay’s main reason for writing the post is the fact that this law is being widely misconstrued and/or misunderstood, and he wants to provide a contrarian view. He points out:
I wasn’t quite sure how to react to blog posts like “India Sleepwalks To Total Surveillance“. However I really can’t respect the way the bill has been represented. Some of the bold statements in the post say, “Thou shall not author a joke. Not even forward one”, “Thou shall not surf Bollywood news” and ” Thou shall not watch porn”. I really could not find any evidence to support such views whatsoever. The sad part is that such posts get picked up in articles like Blogger Writes from Inside the Newest Police State on the Planet, discussions such as slashdot – India Sleepwalks Into a Surveillance Society and tweets such as these. I have spent about 6 years in US, and the remainder in India. I have always been very happy with the freedoms I have received in India, even though I do know that very unfortunately a small proportion of the population does get victimised or harassed due to the stringent laws from time to time. I won’t be surprised if a substantial proportion of Indian Citizens actually support the clauses against pornography. And finally the draft bill has been under discussion since 2006 so I couldn’t understand how the world’s largest democracy sleepwalked into something (though I am certain this and another bill got completely fast tracked after the Mumbai Terrorist Attacks). The fact of the matter is that this has always been a state of stringent laws, with laws which don’t always agree fully with the western world. I think we should rate our laws based on our aspirations and desires. While I shudder at the privileges the government has in terms of eavesdropping, I am quite ambivalent on the strictures against pornography and greatly welcome the enhancements related to electronic signatures and increased accountability in terms of online communication and network security maintenance. Its really a mixed bag in my opinion. If at all India is to be considered a police state as in some opinions, in my opinion it is certainly not because of this bill.
Read his whole article to understand this important development in detail.