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Ban on porn sites, legitimate content, and limitations on social media: Indian Govt.

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ban on porn in india

ban on porn in india

The plan is to begin by creating a list of pornography sites, especially those hosting child porn, and provide that to Internet service providers (ISPs) to block. And then, to ensure that largescale blocking does not slow Internet access, service providers will be asked to upgrade their infrastructure. The Internet and Mobile Association of India has been asked to curate the list.

On September 5th 2014, 23 individuals, including Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, CERT-IN head Gulshan Rai, government officials from DoT, Deity, CBI, as well as representatives of industry bodies like IAMAI, FICCI, ASSOCHAM, CII met in the Conference Room No. 1007 at the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (Deity) to discuss how such a filter might be implemented…Not whether there should be a filter at all, but how such a filter should be implemented.

In fact, when NASSCOM raised the issue of blocking legitimate content, the Telecom Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, who chaired the meeting, said that the “larger issue of respecting cultural values of the country and sentiments of the Indian society need to be considered and all possible ways and means may have to be devised in this context.”

In addition, the Ministry of Home Affairs said that, along with CERT-In , they are “working together to block websites containing objectionable contents having the potential to create communal violence and law and order problem as well as sensitive from the national security point of view. He further added that Ministry of I&B has set up National Media Centre to monitor contents of various websites on the Internet on 24 x 7 basis.”

The CRAC (Cyber Regulation Advisory Committee) meeting was looking to filteration of the web, following the filing of a writ petition by Kamlesh Vasvani in the Supreme Court of India, alleging that “easy access to porn websites results in illegal activities like rape, harassment, molestations of women.” The filter is likely to be created for censoring porn online, but as we pointed out earlier, this itself is tricky.

Why we’re worried

1. It’s not about porn alone: The problem with blocking pornography is the collateral damage that comes along with it. In the minutes of the meeting, Gulshan Rai, DG, CERT-IN, refers to a letter from Sharad Pawar, MP and leader of the NCP, to the Prime Minister, which raises the issue of incidents “of communal and related violence in Maharastra triggered by objectionable profiles posted on the social networking sites, hurting sentiments of certain sections of society.”

2. Once a filter is in place, it’s mandate will increase: The last line of the minutes of the meeting: “Regarding the misuse of social media for disturbing social harmony in the country, MCIT requested MHA to look into the matter and evolve steps to prevent misuse.”

If we set up a filter, and politicians want content blocked because it hurts certain sections of society, the government will start blocking everything. The mandate will expand to blocking other content as well.

3. We won’t know what is blocked: We’ve seen from the Department of Telecom in the past, there is lack of transparency on what all is being blocked, why it is being blocked. The Department is yet to even acknowledge an RTI filed by MediaNama, for copies of orders related to blocking content, that do not pertain national security concerns. We’ve filed an appeal with the appellate authority. But we never know what is blocked or why it has been blocked.

4. We won’t know how to get content unblocked: Today, if the government blocks a site, whether because of a court order or because a political party doesn’t like criticism, we don’t know how to get the blocks removed. There is no recourse.

5. Filters will make blocking easier: which means more blocks, implemented more quickly, and with lack of transparency, things can get crazy and whimsical.

The social media issue is concerned, the meeting doesn’t shed much light on how the content screening will take place. Will criticism of the government’s policies also come under this web-filtration? We have no details on the specifics. And let’s not forget India is the leader when it comes to blocking content on Facebook.

As the Medianama piece rightly points out the ambiguity of what could end up getting filtered is what makes this scary. Additionally the whole ‘pornography is against Indian culture’ idea is also worrying because it shows that the government is going along with a rigid definition of what is presumed as the “correct” Indian culture. More details about the meetings are available here

Credits: Medianama/Firstpost

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

Misc News/Press Release

CM Jairam Thakur Tests Positive for COVID-19, Quarantined

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HImachal Pradesh CM Tests Positive for COVID-19

Shimla-Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Jairam Thakur, have tested positive for COVID-19 and has been quarantined at his official residence. The report was confirmed by the Chief Minister through a tweet in which he informed that he was under quarantine at his residence after coming into contact with a COVID-19 positive person. On the appearance of symptoms, he got himself tested and the report was found to be positive, he informed.

According to the initial report, the Chief Minister had come in contact with some COVID-19 positive persons in Manali. MLA of Banjar, Surinder Shourie, who was positive for COVID-19 had participated in the event organized on the occasion of the inauguration of Rohtang Tunnel, had also tested positive. Shourie had spent the entire day with the Chief Minister, reports said.

His private secretary had also tested positive, and there are chances that the Chief Minister might have contracted the infection from him. However, there is no certainty regarding the contact who infected the Chief Minister.

Other than Chief Minister, three Cabinet ministers – Urban Development Minister Suresh Bharadwaj, Power Minister Sukh Ram Chaudhary, Jalshakti Minister Mahender Singh- have tested positive so far.  Over ten MLAs have already tested positive and some of them have recovered too.

Meanwhile, despite community spread, the testing and tracing seem to have fallen and the fatality rate has witnessed a steep rise. Till 12 pm today, the COVID-19 death tally for the state was 245, and the total number of cases registered was 17414. But these are official statistics and these numbers are likely to be much higher. 

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Himachal: COVID-19 Kills 59 in 9 Days, Govt Still Clueless About Actual Number of Cases

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Himachal PRadesh Jairam Thakur

Shimla-COVID-19 continue to wreak havoc in Himachal Pradesh as the death tally spirals upward rapidly. Currently, 240 people have lost their lives due to COVID-19. Fifty nine of these deaths have been reported during the last nine days of October month, which is quite alarming. But contrary to that, the attitude of the state government, as well as, the public is becoming more casual. The SOPs issued by the government are hardly being followed anywhere. The fact that with the community spread, the cases of COVID-19 are falling in the official information released by the state Health Department.

On October 9, the Department traced only 199 cases but reported seven deaths. The total number of active cases was cited to be 2856. The deceased included three females and four males aged between 49 -75 years. View details of the deceased in the below-given table:

Shimla-covid-19 deaths in himachal pradesh

The total number of cases, as per the official statistics, had reached 16977 till yesterday evening (9 PM). But these are official statistics and the real number is likely to be much higher due to a community spread. Similarly, the actual number of COVID-19 deaths could be higher than the official statistics. Despite it, the state government is reluctant to release any projection regarding the real numbers. No statements have been issued regarding the current situation and strategy to combat the rising fatality rate. Rather, the state appears to be refraining from bringing up the matter.

The oppositions, HP Congress and CPI (M), are targeting the government over its failure to combat the spread of COVID-19. However, this opposition is quite feeble and hasn’t resulted in any reforms in the attitude of the government.

In a statement to media, Sanjay Chauhan, former Mayor of Shimla and a senior CPI (M) leader, said that the rise in fatalities is the result of the government’s lackadaisical attitude. The suicide committed by a positive patient at the DDU COVID-19 hospital is evidence of it, he said. He said this approach has endangered health lives of ministers, officials, and the staff at their offices. Further, he said, health staff, paramedical staff, and police staff are getting infected, and even losing lives due to the government’s unpreparedness.  The government had even compromised the safety of the Prime Minister and Education Minister by violating norms set regarding COVID-19, he said.

HP Congress chief, Kuldeep Rathor also expressed shock over the presence of COVID-19 positive MLA of Banjar, Surender Shourie, in the event organized for the PM. He alleged that by violating all norms, the MLA concealed information regarding his COVID-19 positive status and did not quarantine himself, which reflects the state government’s attitude toward management of the corona pandemic. He had demanded registration of an FIR against Shourie and action against erring officials.

Sanjay Chauhan, further said that the government did not prepare itself to combat the pandemic the way it was expected to. The people of the state had followed the lockdown and sacrificed their livelihood with a hope that the government would prepare itself during this period to combat the spread and to strengthen the health infrastructure and services. But instead, the government indulged itself in making people clap and beat ‘thalis’.  The Chief Minister adopted and preached unscientific practices like performing a ‘havan’.  Despite a steep rise in fatalities, the government is still not serious about the situation, he said. 

He said the CPI (M) demands that the government starts working on war footing to prepare a strategy by involving health experts, strengthening the health services by recruiting doctors, para-medical and other staff, and constitute a task force to deal with the situation. The government should work diligently on following the norms set for prevention from COVID-19, he added.  

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Shocker for Himachal as Ex-CBI Chief & Governor Ashwani Kumar Found Dead at His Shimla Residence

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Himachal IPS Officer Ashwani Kumar found deat in shimla

Shimla-Ashwani Kumar – 1973 IPS officer from Himachal Pradesh cadre who had served as the Director-General of HP Police (2006-2008) and CBI chief (August 2008 to November 2010), and was later appointed the Governor of Nagaland in 2013-was found dead at his residence in Shimla on Wednesday evening. The news came as a shocker as Kumar was considered as one of India’s finest and honest officers.

Superintendent of Police, Shimla, Mohit Chawala, in statement to news agencies, confirmed the report. According to the initial report, he reportedly hanged himself and ended his life. However, no formal statement was issued regarding the suicide. According to the police, a suicide note was also recovered from the spot. However, the note was yet to be verified.

Kumar was a well known name as he had dealt with famous cases including that of Arushi Talwar murder and fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in which current Home Minister Amit Shah was arrested in 2010.

He was one of the first appointees made to resign from the post of Governor, Nagaland, as soon as the current ruling party came into power in 2014. He also remained Governor of Manipur for a short period of time. After his retirement, Kumar was serving as the Vice-Chancellor of a private university in Shimla.

The officials who have served under Aswani Kumar have expressed shock over his demise in such a manner. 

Director-General of Police, Sanjay Kundu, and a team of medical staff was rushed to the spot. More details are awaited as the district police have not issued any formal statement regarding the incident.

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