As the growing use of Social Media and Internet users, the concern among the users and human rights activists is regarding the legislation for governing Online Speech and Expression.
Is India ‘free’ to speak?
Free speech in India is not absolute.
The Constitution, while guaranteeing the freedom of speech and expression, places “reasonable restrictions” on this basic human right.
The Information Technology Act, 2000
Section 69 of the Act grants power to the Central or a State Government to issue directions for interception or monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, for preventing incitement to commission of any cognizable offence, for investigation of any offence.
Section 69A grants power to the Central Government to issue directions to block public access of any information through any computer resource on similar grounds.
In 2021, the Government announced wide-ranging changes to its regulatory mechanisms for governing online speech. These changes, made as to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, (“Intermediary Rules”) substantially alter the framework for the regulation of online platforms and their content moderation practices in India.