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Guest Article: Monitoring = future censorship?

09-December-2011
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Guest Article:  Monitoring = future censorship?

Telecoms and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal met executives from Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft on Monday to ask them to screen content - The Times of India

The statement of Cabinet Minister for Telecoms and Information Technology has raised a whirlwind in the online space. The calls for non-interference and safeguarding the tenets of freedom of speech have grown louder with many in the media accusing him of censorship.

A vibrant and a healthy society is one where ideas and thoughts are expressed freely and debated vigorously; and not where a nanny institution is set-up to monitor the political correctness of such ideas. Social media came into being with the exact same purpose of allowing exchange of ideas without any distortion whatsoever. Masses far and wide appreciated it because for once they were able to see through without the media smokescreen or what human scientists call propaganda.

For long people were fed with the accepted line of thought, and media acted as a sheeple. Social media allowed people to create and relay reality as it were, without any media or government filters and thus came to be trusted upon in times and places where censorship prevailed. For instance, the revolution at Tahrir Square, the 2009 uprising in Iran and the so called ‘Arab spring’ all have their propulsions in social media.

While skeptics may take this with a grain of salt, but the very idea of monitoring the social media space is repulsive to so many people is evident by the backlash. For pragmatic people, who despised the mainstream media being a propaganda tool of vested interests, were beginning to trust this alternate source of information. To monitor it is akin to nipping in the bud of the source of people’s revolution.

Dr Ron Paul, a US congressman from Texas once stated: “Sanctions are a prelude to war”. Similarly, it won’t be too far-fetched to state that monitoring is a prelude to full-blown censorship and every freedom loving person should oppose it with vigour and fervour.

(Prashant Deorah is MD, Puretech Internet.)

 

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