Saturday, December 8, 2012

#freeandopen: why you should care

‘if you want to test a man’s character, give him power’ – Abraham Lincoln

Being a blogger, you are expected to be politically correct and subtle with your humor because here’s the thing about power, it doesn’t encourage mocking. Sarcasm gets away because not many people are able to see the underlining pun and even fewer find it funny. So in a country where subject such as how many cartoons should kids be exposed to, makes it to national newspaper’s headline after being debated furiously in parliament, I found it odd that arresting people over posts on social networking sites/blogs came as a surprise. Furthermore, when a search engine is forced to tell you that govt’s are planning to gag internet to suit them, it brings up a huge dilemma.

  Internet is and always has been free barring some pseudo democracies and countries feeling too good about themselves.  World Wide Web, in its earlier phases, was supposed to be paid according to rumors but the guy who invented it decided to give it up for free. Millions of data transfer and invention of iPod’s later, apple fans please pay attention; people realized what a boon that turned out to be. Egyptians can elaborate here. People across the globe could make their voices heard. Every opinion mattered. If you have an internet connection, you could make your voice heard. Similar minded people joined hands to make something as basic as peer-to-peer exchange, a big industry. Newspapers began to break news on their online portal in real time because of large readership. Comment threads were opened for discussion and turned out people who seemed pretty content earlier had an opinion too. Secret wires between diplomacies were put up for the world to see the dialogues between closed doors.
  But like every good thing, some people took the power of anonymity along with the ability to express themselves independently and used it to voice their extreme opinions. When I say extreme, I mean the inability and refusal to hear and/or acknowledge a counter view. like in real life, people began hijacking discussions forums and comments section were strictly moderated because there can be no limit to what you can say when you don’t have to say it face to face. Govt’s understood the need to monitor and make laws, which governed Internet. But there lies the problem.

How much policing is too much?

Google's initiative

 Which brings me to my post, is government right is trying to enforce laws that prevents us from looking at certain pages because they think its not right?  Isn’t government, by suggesting that we can be tried for something that so much as even causes ‘Discomfort and annoyance’, taking away the right to speech in some way? More importantly, how and why do you plan to filter communications between citizens of free country? Is a post on some social networking site worthy enough to get you detained? 10 years before today, this might not have created such uproar but now, when every second marks a new breaking news and the 24-hour news channel thing has actually started to make sense (talking in terms of quantity, quality on the other hand leaves much to be desired).
  Talking about the illusive democracy we live in, Mr. Sibal has been defending government’s action continuously by saying they don’t want to curtail free speech and are in favor of citizens having opinions. Well I trust Mr. Sibal because he is in a position of power and for the well being of my extended family, I cannot afford to afford to disagree with him. But if Google is anything to go by, and I don’t see why they would want to lie about it, there seems to be some misunderstanding somewhere. Because we are number 2 in asking for details about citizen’s browsing details and asking for shutting down sites. Plus, those two Mumbai females did not have a very good experience for having an opinion online, and her doctor uncle will vouch for that because his office got ransacked by some guys who disagreed with said lady’s comments and were not able to find a dislike button on the networking site in question, nor did that unknown guy from Pondicherry for causing displeasure to a certain MP. Let me specify explicitly, for obvious reasons, that I don’t necessarily agree with either of these school of thoughts but these cases could have been handled better. And I am not even going into the way the north-eastern fiasco was handled in recent times.

  And shutting down every channel/medium, which disagrees with government, is certainly not the way to go forward. Agreed, people need to watch their words and verify sources before making claims but going all ballistic on netizens because they don’t make too much difference in polling number game is not a very smart move. What makes government’s claims even more absurd is the way Internet is treated when used in general discussions. Considering how it has turned every user into an activist of sorts, we, as citizens who voted them to power, need to ask governments, what exactly is that they are afraid of? Why would they want to shut down a page?  Because I still believe that something, which connects people and makes them audible can only help in growing democracies if dealt with wisely.

 Buckle up leaders, the world is watching

Agree/disagree, have something to say? do share \m/oO\m/

1 comment:

  1. Its funny how a potitician or a governement can criticize another politician or another country's govt. But when the people who chose them and elected them, do so, they are hushed and put behind bars. Crazy world!




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