posted on Mon, Jun 29 '20 under tag: politics

India government “banned” some 59 apps today because they are “they are engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.” This is dangerous.

Section 69A of the IT act:

Power to issue directions for blocking for public access of any information through any computer resource. - (1) Where the Central Government or any of its officer specially authorised by it in this behalf is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient so to do, in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above, it may subject to the provisions of sub-section (2) for reasons to be recorded in writing, by order, direct any agency of the Government or intermediary to block for access by the public or cause to be blocked for access by the public any information generated, transmitted, received, stored or hosted in any computer resource. (2) The procedure and safeguards subject to which such blocking for access by the public may be carried out, shall be such as may be prescribed. (3) The intermediary who fails to comply with the direction issued under sub-section (1) shall be punished with an imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine.

Having a law like this is one thing. Using it the way government has used it today is another thing.

There is a very similar law called the UAPA which is routinely used to arrest good citizens of India who fight to protect democratic institutions.

69A of IT Act, going by the way it has been used to “ban” these apps, will soon be used this way for every other app (unless, of course, you are friends with the government.)

Communication apps like Telegram or Whatsapp which may not help the government snoop on citizens could be banned saying they are acting against defence of India. Crowd-sourced data collection apps could be banned. Social media applications could be regulated under the pressure of a ban.

This is wrong. This is a slippery slope. This is an encroachment into the fundamental liberties of a citizen. India, the last time I checked, is a democracy. And the government cannot tell the citizens what apps they can use and cannot. They will start with a list of “Chinese apps”. But that’s just the start. This is going to affect every other app. This is bad.

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