Edited by Corien Prins, Colette Cuijpers, Peter L. Lindseth and Mônica Rosina
Chapter 15: Internet censorship in India: the law and beyond
The internet has enabled individuals to air opinions in a largely unregulated space. Laws censoring the internet are thus widely opposed in democratic societies. However, censorship is a complex phenomenon. This chapter begins by questioning the notion of censorship as a legally sanctioned prior restraint on speech. The chapter argues that censorship should be viewed in a broader social and political context, and can assume a variety of different forms. With this premise, the chapter refers to the judgment of the Indian Supreme Court in Shreya Singhal v Union of India. The judgment, which saw the Supreme Court strike down a draconian provision of India’s Information Technology Act, has been celebrated in the mainstream media. However, the impact of the judgment may be limited as the concept of internet censorship should be viewed beyond the semantics of legislation. Thus, the harassment of citizens for political speech – which led to the case – could continue through other methods.
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