Section 66A under the IT Act needs to be amended and redefined. It is against the freedom of speech guaranteed under the Indian Constitution.
In the last few months a number of cases have come to light on how Section 66A is being arbitrarily used by the law enforcement agencies to arrest citizens for posting comments on the internet and social networking websites.
This is the same section which took Ambikesh Mahapatra to jail for emailing a cartoon of the West Bengal Chief Minister to his friends, to arrest Shaheen Dhada for posting a comment on Facebook, to harass Renu, her friend for liking that comment or for taking Ravi to the police station for tweeting about a politician's son.
This is not just a battle against one section but against an entire law which is being used to keep the citizens in check and deny them Internet Freedom.
The Information Technology Act, 2000 which was amended extensively without any debate in the Parliament has a number of such provisions that can result in censorship and severely impact the Freedom of Speech and Expression, which is everyone’s right and vital to the Indian democracy.
In May 2012, a motion was introduced in the Rajya Sabha to amend some parts of the IT Act (IT Intermediary Rules, 2011). However, the motion was defeated by a voice vote. During the debate, Mr Sibal said that the IT Act’s provisions must be invoked with far greater care and at a much higher level in the police force.
Under pressure from the Opposition and various civil society groups that termed the IT rules an attack on freedom of expression, IT Minister Kapil Sibal had assured the constitution of a multi- stakeholder (read different relevant parties including civil society) to amend the rules.
Following this, a roundtable was organised in Aug 2012 was attended by a handful of MPs, representatives of industry and industry associations and lawyers. No civil society organisation was invited to this meeting. Minister Sibal announced that the Government “would set up a smaller group represented by all the stakeholders, civil society, lawyers, academics, cybercafés, MPs, and then tweak these rules in such a way that they are acceptable to everybody.”
While on one hand the IT(Intermediary Rules) 2011 needs to be relooked, the arbitrary use of various provisions of the IT Act are being used to throttle public opinion using the provisions of IT Act are increasingly becoming common.
Through this petition we are asking Mr. Kapil Sibal to immediately
1) Organise the stakeholder meetings to look into the concerns of attack on freedom of expression and make necessary changes to the IT Rules
2) Review and amend Section 66(A) of the IT Act
3) Review the entire IT Act
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