Human Rights in the Digital Era

Legal scholar Dr Upendra Baxi recently opined that protecting human rights in the digital era is a complex challenge for governments everywhere and more so in the case of India. After reading through his article and getting to know about the report on ‘Disinformation and Freedom of Opinion and Expression’, which was recently submitted by UNHRC Special Rapporteur Irene Khan for discussion, we decided to explore the subject from a legal and policy perspective. Through our project on ‘Human Rights in the Digital Era’ we seek to highlight the intersectional difficulties in protecting and upholding human rights when the digital realm dominates the lives of all citizens.  (more…)

Need for the Re-Conceptualization of Human Rights in the Digital Era

Our lives are now controlled by digital technologies that subconsciously influence our judgments and have a bearing on our decisions, freedom, and perception of things. Digital technology has transformed the means through which human rights are both exercised and violated by affecting our freedom of speech and expression, association, right to privacy, and right against harassment, amongst others. The emergence and evolution of ‘digital’ rights have challenged and transformed the more traditional understanding of human rights. Undoubtedly, the digital arena is an indispensable tool for the larger public. However, we often come across information on how digital technologies are increasingly undermining human rights. Data collection, privatization, surveillance, and security are some of the issues that affect our digital rights. But what about the ripple effect caused by our digital rights on our human rights?   (more…)

The Anuradha Bhasin Judgment and the Conditional Status of the Right to the Internet

The preamble to the Indian Constitution provides for the liberty of thought and expression to each and every citizen of the country. This solemn resolve is envisaged in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution which provides for freedom of speech and expression to its citizens. This freedom is restricted by Article 19(2) which provides for reasonable restrictions on eight grounds under which the State can encroach on a person’s freedom of speech and expression. Article 19(2) is generally understood as a provision enabling the State to make laws that impose reasonable restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression. In addition to this, Article 19(2) is also a restriction on the State itself as it cannot restrict a citizen’s free speech on any grounds other than those specifically mentioned. Furthermore, the restriction must be made through a law that needs to be checked against fundamental rights. Thus, restrictions cannot be imposed at the whims and fancies of the State. A recent case that reinforces this principle while also improvising the interpretation of the right to access the internet vis-a-vis the fundamental rights is Anuradha Bhasin v Union of India (more…)

Freedom, but for whom?

By Parth Govilkar, School of Law, University of Mumbai.

In an unparalleled move by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry on 2nd April, 2018, a directive was issued, stating that, the journalists who would be found guilty of writing or broadcasting fake news would have their accreditation withdrawn for a limited period or permanently, depending upon the frequency of the offence. If a journalist would be accused of publishing fake news, then in the first instance, accreditation would be suspended for 6 months; for 1 year in case of a second complaint and permanent cancellation if the offence is repeated. (more…)

Judiciary, Media and Public Opinion: An Overview

By Arifa Khan, Post Graduate College of Law, Osmania University, Hyderabad.

The media is regarded as the fourth pillar of any democracy. An independent media is necessary for keeping a check on the government and its organs. But with the increasing corporatisation of media and the race to grab more eyeballs for higher numbers, the media is overstepping its boundaries. It has been witnessed that the media pronounces its own verdict before the trial begins and ends up violating the principles of a fair trial. The accused persons are held guilty in the eyes of the public before a verdict is delivered in open court. Also, the sensationalism by media affects Judges and the public opinion created by the media is bound to have an effect on them. (more…)

Internet Neutrality: Can India adopt it?

By Saurav Das, School of Law, Christ University.

We must thank the telecom providers where it’s due. India has developed and on the tip of its boom due to its economy, people, education above all a good communication. Use of internet has always been a priority and this priority is greatly fulfilled by the telecom providers who operate in India and give us this service. The internet service providers have, given what the people of India needed. We are the world’s 10th largest economy1 and this statement comes true because there was a backing by the internet service providers at all times we needed it. (more…)

Net Neutrality: Effect on Innovation and Competition

By Ranjana Meharda, National Law University, Jodhpur.

Nowadays, one of the most important and popularly rising topic of general interest is social networking sites.  Almost everything is now available over internet and it has become a very common and general practice for a person to look for a particular solution over there and getting satisfied with the appropriate solution.  Social networking sites are made very easy to understand so as to attract as many people as possible. (more…)

Freedom of Speech v. Freedom after Speech

By Sneha Baul, CLC, Faculty of Law, Delhi University.

The Part III of the Constitution of India enumerates the Fundamental Rights. Freedom of speech and expression comes under “Right to particular freedom”. The rationale of its validity is that the fundamental rights are basic structure of the Constitution. Any law that abrogates or abridges such rights would be violative of the doctrine of basic structure.[1] Article 19(1)(a) says that all the citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression. (more…)