For Immediate Release: June 12, 2012
Washington DC – Tomorrow as the Administration hosts the India-US Strategic Dialogue, Human Rights First calls on Secretary Clinton and Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna to address internet freedom as a part of the conversation. India has become one of the latest battle grounds for Internet freedom as online activists are taking measures to protest government censorship of the web.
“Laws that mandate censorship of online materials put companies that do business in India in a tough position,” said Human Rights First’s Meg Roggensack. “They must either take actions that may illegitimately limit free expression or face contempt charges. India should recognize as well that a free and open Internet will be a boon for its economy and encourage Internet companies to innovate and expand in its markets.”
The Department of State’s 2011 human rights report found that India had laws in place that would allow several levels of government to censor or block access to websites that contained anything that was harmful or offensive. In late 2011, for instance, a lower court ordered twenty-two social media sites to remove content that a plaintiff felt was antireligious. India’s laws also allow for third-party liability, making Google or Facebook responsible what results come up in a search or what content users’ post. Google and Facebook are currently on trial for not complying with the government’s censorship order.
“Secretary Clinton recently stated that the relationship between the United States and India has never been stronger,” concluded Roggensack. “As part of this relationship, we must not shy away from a frank and open dialogue about the role India has played in restricting expression online.”