Centre for Internet & Society

Amidst a raging controversy over the federal government’s proposal to monitor content in cyber space, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday said access to the Internet and various social media must not be blocked as a way to prevent criticism and public debate.

In his speech on the eve of the Human Rights Day which was released at the United Nations Information Centre, Ban said: “Today, within their existing obligation to respect the rights of freedom of assemble and expression, governments must not block access to the Internet and various forms of social media as a way to prevent criticism and public debate.”

His comments came a few days after Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said the government will take steps to stop offensive and defamatory content on Internet sites.

Ban said: “Many of the people seeking their legitimate aspirations were linked through social media.”

Sibal’s comments provoked anger and derision among Internet users. Sunil Abraham, executive director at the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore, said it would be “impractical on the level of scale and on the level of the objective test. What’s offensive for someone might be completely banal to somebody else,” he said. Any ham-fisted government crackdown would “have a high impact on our credibility as a democracy” and risk alienating India’s growing online community, Abraham said.

The story was published in the Oman Tribune on December 10, 2011. Sunil Abraham was quoted in this article. Read the original here