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Internet rights: Internet shutdown in India

  • IASbaba
  • December 31, 2019
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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TECHNOLOGY

TOPIC: General Studies 3:

  • Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Internet rights: Internet shutdown in India

In news:

  • In Kashmir, the government imposed a complete.
  • The enactment of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act led to protests all over the country and State governments responded by suspending the Internet. 
  • The Software Freedom Law Centre data says there have been more than a 100 Internet shutdowns in different parts of India in 2019 alone.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  • Internationally, the right to access to the Internet can be rooted in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Human Rights Council

  • The Human Rights Council of the United Nations Resolution dated 2018, noted with concern the various forms of undue restriction on freedom of opinion and expression online, including where countries have manipulated or suppressed online expression in violation of international law.

Recommendation by: Justice BN Srikrishna Committee

  • The appropriateness of a right to be forgotten in specific circumstances would require that the right to privacy be balanced with the freedom of speech
  • It called right to confirmation, access and correction to be included in the data protection law.

Kerala High Court:

  • In Faheema Shirin v. State of Kerala, the Kerala High Court declared the right to Internet access as a fundamental right forming a part of the right to privacy and the right to education under Article 21 of the Constitution
  • This  judgment acknowledges the role of the right to access Internet in accessing other fundamental rights

Observations by the Court

  • The Court observed that the internet acts as a learning tool and nobody can impose restrictions on it, citing discipline.
  • The petitioner argued that the restriction on the use of internet amounted to a violation of the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
  • The Kerala HC in response cited the Supreme Court judgment in the S. Rengarajan and others v/s P. Jagjivan Ram case (1989) that the fundamental freedom under Article 19(1)(a) can be reasonably restricted only for the purposes mentioned in the Article 19(2).

Conclusion:

  • Internet broadband and mobile Internet services are a lifeline to people in India from all walks of life. While the Internet is certainly a main source of information and communication and access to social media, it is so much more than that. Hence it is high time to recognise the right to Internet access as a fundamental right.

Connecting the dots:

  • Do you think Internet access should be a basic human right?
  • What do you think about Kerala high court decision?

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