Freedom of speech fails in India after 800+ social media pages are blocked to protect “religious sensibility”

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Freedom of speech fails in India after 800+ social media pages are blocked to protect “religious sensibility” in 2015. 

The number of social media pages blocked by the government for carrying objectionable content rose to 844 till November 2015, the Parliament has been informed.

Out of the total, the government blocked 492 web pages under Section 69A of Information Technology Act, 2000 based on recommendation of a committee set up in this regard, compared to 10 blocked in 2014, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

Under Section 69A of IT Act, the government has power to block any information in any computer resource in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, national security, friendly relations with foreign states or for maintaining law and order.

“A total of 136, 13 and 10 and 492 URLs of social media websites were blocked in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, till November 30, 2015, respectively under Section 69A through the Committee constituted under the rules therein,” Prasad said.

The social media links that were blocked on court orders stood at 352.

“Further, a total of 533, 432 and 352 URLs of social media websites were blocked in compliance with the directions of the competent courts of India in 2013, 2014 and 2015, till November 30, 2015,” Prasad said.

The minister said that the government does not separately maintain data on web pages blocked for anti-religious content.

He said that in 2014, a total of 4,192 cases were reported under Section 66A of IT Act which had provision of jail term for sending offensive messages online, but the section is no longer valid since Supreme Court annulled it in March 2015.

As per data of 2014 shared by Prasad, 2,423 persons were arrested, out of which 1,125 were charge-sheeted and 42 were convicted under Section 66A of IT Act.

Source: http://bit.ly/1Z4NQH6

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