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The Pandora’s Box opened: the IT Act 2011

May 14, 2011

After attending the conference headed by Medianama’s editor Mr. Nikhil Pahwa to discuss the new IT Act, I really appreciate the great work that they are doing to bring awareness to the general public regarding the devious way the rulings of this new Act are being formulated. Read on…

Following is an excerpt from Medianama.com :

The Centre for Internet and Society has published a point-by-point rebuttal of the statement issued by India’s Department of Information Technology on India’s Internet Control Rules.

In its press release on Wednesday, May 11, 2011 , the DIT stated:

The attention of Government has been drawn to news items in a section of media on certain aspects of the Rules notified under Section 79 pertaining to liability of intermediaries under the Information Technology Act, 2000. These items have raised two broad issues. One is that words used in Rules for objectionable content are broad and could be interpreted subjectively. Secondly, there is an apprehension that the Rules enable the Government to regulate content in a highly subjective and possibly arbitrary manner.

There are actually more issues than merely “subjective interpretation” and “arbitrary governmental regulation”.

  • The Indian Constitution limits how much the government can regulate citizens’ fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. Any measure afoul of the constitution is invalid.
  • Several portions of the rules are beyond the limited powers that Parliament had granted the Department of IT to create interpretive rules under the Information Technology Act. Parliament directed the Government to merely define what “due diligence” requirements an intermediary would have to follow in order to claim the qualified protection against liability that Section 79 of the Information Technology Act provides; these current rules have gone dangerously far beyond that, by framing rules that insist that intermediaries, without investigation, has to remove content within 36-hours of receipt of a complaint, keep records of a users’ details and provide them to law enforcement officials.

So to equate the effect of these Rules to merely following ‘existing practices’ is plainly wrong. An intermediary—like the CIS website—should have the freedom to choose not to have terms of service agreements. We now don’t.

“In case any issue arises concerning the interpretation of the terms used by the Intermediary, which is not agreed to by the user or affected person, the same can only be adjudicated by a Court of Law. The Government or any of its agencies have no power to intervene or even interpret. DIT has reiterated that there is no intention of the Government to acquire regulatory jurisdiction over content under these Rules. It has categorically said that these rules do not provide for any regulation or control of content by the Government.”

The Rules are based on the presumption that all complaints (and resultant mandatory taking down of the content) are correct, and that the incorrectness of the take-downs can be disputed in court. Why not just invert that, and presume that all complaints need to be proven first?

Now coming to my take on this:

I believe that blatantly removing an individual’s post on frivolous accounts is a mighty misuse of the freedom of expression. But that said, anything that jeopardises safety of any person, group, community or country such as threats or harrassing content or content that sparks extreme communal and religious fanaticism should be brought to book.

The pen is mightier than the sword as we saw in recent times how Egypt and Libya and many such other oppressed countries could break themselves out from the shackles of dictatorial anarchy. And these positive changes are brought about only thanks to this new voice of the middle class youth that is getting a platform only due to the internet. We dont want this positive voice to be stifled and told to shut up.

So in my opinion, what we need here is a comprehensive list to be generated to classify incidents and scenarios between what is frivolous or attacks person’s freedom of expression and what can be a potential cause of extreme repulsion or hatred or fanaticism which is threat to a person or group or country.

And this list needs to be very tightly grounded on the principles of fairness and democracy in our country. Any case should be water-tight ,i.e, able to be classified as one or the other. We need the rules to be mature enough to be such. And I think there should be some way of making people realise that frivolous complainants can also be pulled up for wasting other people’s precious time. I know this last idea in itself is a double edged sword but it isnt difficult to implement if we have work done on the two specific mutually exclusive scenarios that I mentioned earlier in this paragraph.

Whats happening now is really interesting… from the Medianama article… it can be seen that the GoI is overlooking all the comments sent by Civil Society voices, Companies and Industry Experts pointing the concerns regarding the provisions of this new Act. On one hand it calls the process transparent and this is the grossly undermining the people’s voice even before the Act becomes officially enactable.

The latest on this can be found on Medianama’s site if you follow this link:

http://www.medianama.com/2011/05/223-point-by-point-rebuttal-of-indian-governments-statement-on-internet-control-rules/

Comments are welcome guys and gals!

-therhymeoflife

‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’..What ‘sur’?

January 30, 2010

The new ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara‘ is an effrontery to say the least! It depicts insolence for an otherwise noble thought. Many years back, this was the song that defined Natonal Integrity. The newer version, when watched in ‘mute’ ON, would make one wonder if it is a song that National Integrity. There are certain things that should not be attributed to glitter and glamor. National Integrity is one such thing!

While everyone that appeared in this newer version is a legend in one’s own right, it also brings out a question if the producers did not find any category other than films to depict National Integrity. Remaking songs like ”Mile Sur..” hold a much greater responsibility than what was evident from the newer version. I do not understand why, time and again, the North Eastern states are snubbed. People in Kashmir would not attribute themselves to ‘Integrity’ just because a few photos of Dal Lake were shown in the video. It would need a common sense to say that the newer one is at no par with the original version in depicting a very noble thought.

Forget about the North Eastern states, the song did not even represent the culture of the ‘Mainland’ (though I hate to use this word). I would recommend the version made by MIT students, instead. It can be found here. The producers of the new Mile Sur song could not even capture half of what the Non-Resident Indians visualized in their vide0.

I sincerely appreciate the effort of everyone who had been a part of the new ‘Mile Sur’ for their pursuit of a noble thought. But, alas! I would rather dump this noble thought than film it in a very biased way!

Before I sign-off, kudos to the Original version!!

Harsh Reality

December 10, 2009

Saw this video at IU . Really really sad. I am almost in tears 😦

You can also see the video at the original TED page.

P.S:-Yes, I haven’t posted here in a long time. But something in me, it is time, this place comes back alive.

Hot As Hell

October 23, 2009

AAACHHOOOOO!!!!

That morning sneeze…

That morning chill in the air….

That extra laziness to get out of bed…. [extra because I feel lazy to get out of bed daily! :D]

That reluctance to wash one’s face with that cold water….

Even more reluctance to have a bath….Thank god for geyser!

Applying lots of moisturizer on dry skin and lip balm on dry lips….

Eating peas stuffed kachori, vegetable cutlets, carrots, spring onion (pyaj koli to be precise) sabzi ….

Smaller days and longer nights….

That bump in the elbow hurting real bad….

Sipping that warm coffee….

When I got up this morning, I found that winter is here already! In October!

But will it stay?

I am wondering this because the duration and the magnitude of Winter season has been decreasing every year in my town. It gets cold for two days and then again it is as hot as in summer. Last year it was proper Winter only for two weeks, that too in January. December was quite warm. All my sweaters including the Allen Solly ones which I had been waiting to show off didn’t get a chance to come out of the closet. Sigh!

Those who say global warming is a myth should come and stay in my town for a year. The temperature in summer reaches 46 deg C , the monsoon is erratic, no more 4-5 days of continuous heavy rain like we used to have many years ago, no more cold winter months and the pleasure of sleeping under quilts. And after the so called winter, its Summer again. There is no Spring practically!

Spratti-GW-toon

Global_Warming_Predictions_Map

I guess all of you had read several posts on October 15  about Global Warming as many bloggers had participated in Blog Action Day 2009. As I was on my Diwali vacation during that time and as I don’t think blogging about an issue should be restricted to just one day, I am blogging about it now. Moreover I have not added my blog to that website [as it asked for my password] but still I feel strongly about the issue. Today when I felt the first winter chill, I was happy!! But that happiness was short-lived as I remembered last year’s winter season and the change in my town’s climate over the past few years.

hourglass earth

Trust me, no matter how much water is found on the Moon or how many missions are sent to Mars, this is the only planet that can sustain life.

So save it while you still can. Or it will be literally hot as hell on Earth. Here a few things you can do at your level to stop global warming :-

Use Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

Inflate Your Tires

Change Your Air Filter

Use the washing machine or dishwasher only when they are full

Use Recycled Paper

Adjust Your Thermostat

Change the AC Filter

Choose products that come with little packaging and buy refills when you can

Buy fresh foods instead of frozen

Choose energy efficient appliances when making new purchases

Take a shower instead of a bath

Take Shorter Showers

Install a Low-Flow Showerhead

Defrost old fridges and freezers regularly

Buy Products Locally

Buy Minimally Packaged Goods

Cover your pots while cooking

Buy a Hybrid Car

Buy a Fuel Efficient Car

Carpool When You Can

Don’t Idle in Your Car

Reduce Garbage

Plant a Tree

Insulate Your Water Heater

Replace Old Appliances

Do not leave appliances on standby

Put on a Sweater

Insulate Your Home

Air Dry Your Clothes

Switch to a Tankless Water Heater

Switch to Double Pane Windows

Buy Organic Food

Bring Cloth Bags to the Market

Turn off Your Computer

Eat less meat

Encourage your school or business to reduce emissions

Ditch the Plastic

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On a lighter note, Global Warming may be helpful to some beings after all!!

Global_Warming_Cartoon

Tips taken from StopGlobalWarming.Org

Use laalten .. save Energy .. !!

October 16, 2009

Author : Harsh

There is no need reminding everyone how crucial electric power is in current scenario . Rome was not built in a day , neither will this power problem be solved in a day . It needs continous effort of all of us in the direction of progress . We can’t hope to change the very top and hope for this change to trickle down the system . We need to change the base , no matter how insignificant it may be .

One of the ways through which we can save a lot of power while using the web is as follows :

There is point denying that we put google search engine to a lot of use in our day to day life . We love to google things , don’t we .

A research suggested that a black version of the Google would save a lot of energy.
www.laalten.com ( http://www.laalten.com was created inspired by this theory)

This is a search engine powered by Google.
It saves energy because the screen is predominantly black.

Join your hands in this enegry saving mission.

Always use this site for search and make sure to SET IT AS YOUR HOME PAGE.

Please spread the good word among your friends, neighbours.

Lets use www.laalten.com and save energy.

Of Strikes and Gandhi Jayanti in the same week!!

October 2, 2009

Unbelievable! The Strikes strike back!

Gandhiji must have not thought that the non co-operation movement that he captained against the British during his lifetime, would one day maim the public structures of Independent India..

Pilots jeopardised Jet Airways and Air India by going on sick leave..
Professors of IIT – IIM going on hunger strikes..

Certain pockets of people are holding the general public at ransom to have their demands met…

There must be some appropriate machinery for getting them addressed… not by rampant strikes.

As Mr. Tharoor points out rightly, “the cattle class” who pay the regular taxes is completely mowed down by such events.

Mahatma Gandhi wouldnt be really happy on his 140th birth anniversary with how his ideals are being misused to butcher the public services sector of our country.

gandhi09

Is Gandhi Jayanti just another Holiday? Do we only remember him because of today’s Google Doodle?

Image courtesy : google.com

Smart Water use in the home

August 31, 2009

We were provided handouts on A quick and easy Smart water use check up to see how we can save water, power and money!

I am providing below a short synopsis of tips that I think are great and easy to measure.

Get a pen and paper and record the results as you work around your home.

1. TAPS

If any of the taps in your kitchen, bathroom or laundry are:

  • Individual hot and cold taps mounted on the counter top or
  • Single lever (mixer) faucet/tap or
  • Individual taps with a combined spout

To check the flow rate – do this:

a. Turn the water on and run it at your normal flow

b. Place a container under and tap and collect water for 10 seconds

c. Measure the volume of water collected (e.g. pour into a measuring cup)

d. Multiply the volume x 6 to determine flow rates in litres per minute (l/min)

If the flow rate is more than 12l/min on any tap, consider installing an aerator or flow restrictor to reduce to 9l/min ir less – a minimum 25% reduction.

2. TOILETS

Check toilet type. Is the toilet:

  • Single Flush orDual flush (can’t be imrpoved)

If the toilet is single flush model:

a. Take the top off the tank behind the toilet

b. Locate the centre post with washes that keeps the water in the tank

c.Flush the toilet and watch the action of the lever arms and centre post.

To reduce the volume of water used during each flush. you can:

a. Adjust the lever arm so that the float stops the tank refilling at a lower level – this gives a modest reduction in water us or

b. Install a cistern weight, hanging it over the centre post – this can reduce water use by as much as 60% every flush!!! To function properly, hold the flush lever down until the bowl is clear then release it. when you do this. the weight forces the washer to close and prevents any more water escaping.

3. SHOWER

If the shower is a :

  • Standard/wall mount shower or
  • Slide and hose type

Check the flow rate. To do this:

a. Turn the water on and run it at your normal flow.

b. Place a container (e.g. a pail) under the shower flow and collect water for 10 seconds.

c. Measure the colume of water collected (e.g. pour into a standard size container)

d. Multiply the volume x 6 to determine flow rate in litres per minute.

If the flow rate is more than 18l/min, you can install a low-flow showerhead or flow restrictor to reduce it to 9 or 12l/min – this provides a minimum 33% reduction in water use.

Start saving water, power and money!

Save even more money by reducing your shower time. Go for the famous ‘four-minute’ shower (I need to practice this when I am preaching this) 😛

Racism Down Under

June 8, 2009

Author : Harsh

M_Id_86223_Indians_protest

Quoting from TOI ,

“Online message boards are like social registers of the New Millennium. With the dual advantage of anonymity and invisibility, hearts and minds

are bared. The posts reacting to a Herald Sun article about the recent assaults on Indian students offer interesting insights into the mind of the average Australian.

One post says Indian students are out and about at 3 am to make phone calls, thereby making themselves vulnerable. Another says their homes are disgustingly dirty. A third refers to Westerners killed in 26/11, obliquely justifying the assaults. Some barely conceal their glee at the prospect of Indians wanting to leave Australia. Overall, the majority is unsympathetic to the Indians’ plight. This, when local police figures show that four Indians on average were attacked every day in Victoria state in 2008.”

All of us are aware of the attacks on Indian students in Australia . Four Indian students were assaulted by a group of Australian teenagers last week . One amongst them  Shravan Kumar, 25,  was critically injured in the incident.
The four Indians were first subjected to racist comments and were asked to return to India, after which they were brutally attacked by the boys who used screwdriver as a weapon.

This is not the only incident . A number of Indians are being targeted every day down under . An average person is now scared to move out alone , who knows if they are next in the queue . These incidents have raised serious concerns among the students who were aspiring to continue their studies in Australia .

In reply , Indian students organised a rally to protest against the incident . About 200 Indian students and their supporters marched from the Town Hall to Hyde Park in Sydney to protest against the wave of allegedly racist attacks targeting them . The peaceful protest was organised by the Federation of Indian Students of Australia (FISA) .

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has condemned the racial attack on Indian students and has promised to take necessary action. But it doesn’t look like any serious effort is being made . Indians are being attacked everyday . In an incident yesterday , a car belonging to an Indian was torched in Melbourne . Though police denies any racial motive behind it , no one knows any better .

Report: Pup Adoption Camp

May 4, 2009

Yesterday, a “puppy adoption camp” was organised by “Lets Live Together”, a welfare organisation, Bangalore. More than 13 homeless pups were adopted by animal lovers. These pups were completely vaccinated and were not on sale. I’ve registered to be a volunteer. If you are in Bangalore, you can do your little bit too. Anybody can support and sponsor. Visit their wonderful blog for more information – http://letslivetogether.wordpress.com/

Democratic Dialogue

April 5, 2009

A: Do you know we have elections coming up?

B: Oh yeah, the election frenzy has already caught up with everyone in the media..

A: It’s worth the hype. With 714 million voters, it is perhaps the largest democratic exercise in the world.

B: Are you going to vote?

A: I want to, but for whom?

B: There are options, plenty of them.

A: Like? It’s either the Congress or the BJP. And eventually it’s going to be neither. We’ll have another hotchpotch result, another unstable coalition government and revised manifestos to suite each of the participating member with all the promises forgotten in the process.

B: But by not voting, you are losing the right to seek accountability.

A: See, while I want accountability from the centre, I also want my elected MP to deliver in my constituency. The roads are still the same mess they were. The concrete dump in the neighbourhood is still where it was three years ago. The traffic has only worsened. There are still no clean toilets in municipal schools nor there is provision for clean drinking water. And worst of all, we don’t see the dudes we vote for after the elections are over. My leader has to be accessible if he has to be able to deliver in his constituency.

B: So you mean by not voting you are going to get your voice heard? You think it even matters to them.

A: Even if I vote, does it matter to them?

B: Of course it will, if a number of educated indifferent voters change their attitude of indifference towards voting.

A: No matter what we do, our numbers are too little to create a wave of change.

B: If you want good governance, there are educated MPs standing for elections. They know the problems and the way to their solutions.

A: You mean people like Varun Gandhi. He is a graduated from London School of Economics. I am sure he knows how to create problems and complicate matters further.

B: Agreed, but then there are those who can make a difference. Look at Milind Deora, Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Omar Abdullah, they all are a breath of fresh air in Indian politics.
A: But how many can spread their liberal and forward minded values to the party? Will they dissociate themselves from the Yadavs and Mayawatis and Modis who are pretty much the king makers in these elections? No, all they seek is power.

B: So vote for the emerging parties of modern India. There are a number of educated Indians standing for various seats. They come up with no prior legacy. Campaign for them. Help them win.

A: Name three such parties.

B: Loksatta, Youth For Equality, Bharat Punarnirman Sena, Professionals Party of India…you want more? Catch up with this Saturday’s issue of Mint. They have a whole list of parties who disillusioned people like you can vote for.

A: What do you mean disillusioned?

B: People who have no faith in the system.

A: Look there has to be something better than democracy which can defeat communalism, casteism and vote bank politics in India. Only a sound agenda before elections and a solid performance after them should be the deciding criteria. Look at what happened in the US. When will we have our Obama moment?

B: Well you have a point. But let’s face it; democracy is the best form of governance today. May be it has to change so as to remain relevant to the times of the nation.

A: Like how?

B: We can have a system like France, where the elections are held in two rounds. All candidates stand for the election in the first round and then the two with the highest votes contest against each other in the second round. This way you can ensure that the candidates don’t please or offend any particular vote bank for their gains, because eventually the same people are going to vote for him or his opponent in the next round.

A: Won’t that create a monopoly of parties at the centre? Will everyone’s opinion count?

B: We can also learn from the way the German parliament functions. Only a portion of the seats are filled by elected representatives. The rest are occupied by members from all parties, the number is proportionate to the number of seats the party has in its national tally. This way everyone gets a voice in the parliament but only the elected members can vote in a motion of no confidence. This way you have greater stability and better representation both.

A: Ok that’s a good idea but doubt it will ever happen in India. Any how, I am going to go home and research about candidates from these independent political parties you mentioned.

B: Yes do that. And please cast your vote for the one you choose. Make some noise!