Your party has used social media very well for your campaign in this election. Your side campaign project ‘pappu’ was also popular, perhaps even contributing to your victory for who wants to vote for a ‘pappu’. You did leverage the power of Internet and social media. People acknowledged your promise of ‘digital India’ and ‘progressive India’.
Earlier this year, I noticed TRAI took a very good decision in favour of net neutrality. The mobile service providers’ lobby had wanted all over-the-top (OTT) apps such as Whatsapp, Viber, Skype etc to be charged. However, TRAI wisely rejected the proposal. Whatsapp may in future want to monetize and that is okay. At least government didn’t bow to business lobby.
Yet two issues related to Internet and freedom bother me. Two ongoing policy decisions by your government may threaten the very spirit of ‘digital and progressive’ India.
We hear our Telecom Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, is contemplating how to implement web filters for the country. As Medianama reports, he has been quoted saying: “larger issue of respecting cultural values of the country and sentiments of the Indian society need to be considered and all possible ways and means may have to be devised in this context.”
It leaves me speechless. First, I didn’t know our cultural values were under threat. Second, is the perceived need to ‘save cultural values’ more important than the respect for citizen rights? I can’t fathom why a government would want to regulate personal lives of adult citizens. So what if they watch porn? What is this to the government?
A state’s role is to prevent crime and maintain law and order. It is not to maintain ‘cultural values’ as they define it, especially in a diverse country like ours where definition of values are debatable. Does government have any case of porn leading to criminal/civil offenses? Until it is proven so, a blanket ban is infringement of individual rights, and your decision to use web filter to stop porn is arbitrary. (There are more productive/effective ways of preventing violence and rape, tho I notice you didn’t mention it since you were more preoccupied with protection of cultural values.) I won’t get into pros and cons of porn; but I expect any government to respect an individual’s choice to deal with their sex lives. Please don’t impinge on personal liberties of us individuals. Respect our rights and wisdom as adults and spare us the moralizing.