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Internet is partly unrestricted in India: Freedom House report

According to Freedom House’s report titled ‘Freedom on the Net 2011: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media’, India ranks at number 14 out of the 37 countries on free and unrestricted access to the web. Among Asian countries, India is on the second position scoring 36 points on a scale of 100 compared to South Korea’s 32 which is the first. In 2009, India had scored 34 points.

According to Freedom House’s report titled ‘Freedom on the Net 2011: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media’, India ranks at number 14 out of the 37 countries on free and unrestricted access to the web. Among Asian countries, India is on the second position scoring 36 points on a scale of 100 compared to South Korea’s 32 which is the first. In 2009, India had scored 34 points. The overall list was topped by Estonia and Iran came out on the bottom. Freedom House is an organisation based in the US, monitoring democratic changes, human rights and freedom of speech.

According to the report, internet is partly free in India. “The Indian blogosphere is quite active and eloquent, complementing the rise in internet use by different interest groups and civil society actors. Bloggers are rarely forced by the government or private individuals to take down their writings, but there have been a few instances in which this has occurred,” the report added.

The report pointed out the case of Lakshmana K Kailash who was jailed for 50 days for allegedly defaming an Indian historical figure online. It later emerged that another person had posted the material, and Kailash was arrested based on the wrong IP address. “In the past, instances of the central government seeking to control communication technologies were relatively rare. However, following the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai and with an expanding Maoist insurgency, the need, desire, and ability of the Indian government to control the communications sector have grown,” stated the report.

The report further said that even in democratic countries like Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey, and the UK, internet freedom is increasingly undermined by legal harassment, opaque censorship procedures, or expanding surveillance. “These detailed findings clearly show that internet freedom cannot be taken for granted. Nondemocratic regimes are devoting more attention and resources to censorship and other forms of interference with online expression,” David J. Kramer, executive director, Freedom House has said.

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