Online Censorship: Perspectives From Content Creators and Comparative Law on Section 69A of the Information Technology Act
28 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2023
Date Written: March 30, 2023
The Government of India has increasingly engaged in online censorship using powers in the Information Technology Act. The law lays out a procedure for online censorship that relies solely on the discretion of the executive. Using a constitutional and comparative legal analysis, we contend that the law has little to no oversight and lacks adequate due process for targets of censorship. Through semi-structured interviews with individuals whose content has been taken down by such orders, we shed light on experiences of content owners with government-authorised online censorship. We show that legal concerns about the lack of due process are confirmed empirically, and content owners are rarely afforded an opportunity for a hearing before they are censored. The law enabling online censorship (and its implementation) may be considered unconstitutional in how it inhibits avenues of remedy for targets of censorship or for the general public. We also show that online content blocking has far-reaching, chilling effects on the freedom of expression.
Keywords: online censorship, content blocking, India, Information Technology Act
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