“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”
We, the inhabitants of a globalised society, have seen technology empower us like never before. The recent boom in social networking and its widespread reach has demolished barriers between societies and ideas. Internet has suddenly emerged as popular forum to vent public dissatisfaction against tyranny and governments. Anything that happens even in the remotest part of the globe is available at the click of a mouse and manifests the strength to overthrow regimes.
And there have been setbacks. Intrusion in privacy, identity theft, cyber fraud and unnecessary exposure to mention a few. Governments realise that cutting down access to the international web of information is one way to suppress public discontent. In this context must be read Section 66A of the IT Act 2000, amended in 2008 and assented to by the President on February 5, 2009.
It reads as-
Any person who sends by means of a computer resource or communication device-
(a) any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character or
(b) any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will persistently by making use of such computer resource or a communication device
(c) any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to decieve or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages shall be liable to imprisonment for a term extending upto 3 years and with fine.
It is true that the section deals with a wide array of cyber offences but on the other hand is also vague and prone to misuse. Furthermore, the police has not been provided any training about the sensitivity and proper understanding of a cyber crime committed. Any act that defines a crime must be precise and clearly worded but the section uses the words ‘menacing’, ‘offensive’ which are nowhere defined by Indian law. So what exactly constitutes an electronic message to be offensive or of a menacing character? Interpretation becomes relative and objective.
The recent furore over Shaheen Dhadha and Renu Srinivasan being arrested last week over a Facebook post criticising the bandh like condition in Mumbai after Bal Thackeray’s death and a youth in Palghar arrested on November 28 for posting “vulgar” comments against MNS chief Raj Thackeray and people of Maharashtra on Facebook has opened up debate regarding the gross violation of freedom of speech and expression.
(Maharashtra Police has dropped case against the two girls.
“No chargesheet will be filed in the case… There will be a closure report,”
said DGP Sanjeev Dayal)
The Supreme Court recently admitted a PIL challenging the Act by Delhi University law student Shreya Singhal. A bench headed by CJI Altamas Kabir directed the petitioner to present a copy of the PIL before Attorney General G E Vahanvati who is likely to give his opinion on Friday.
The CJI said, “Arrest of children outraged sentiments of country.”
While cyber activists and several people want the section 66A of the Act to be repealed, some feel that guidelines added to it shall be enough.
Meanwhile the Government issued guidelines on November 29 that state approval from an officer of DCP level in rural areas and IG level in metros will have to be sought before registering complaints under the controversial section.
What bugs me is the fact that are we to be in constant fear that while we voice our personal opinions on political issues, the same might be deemed inappropriate by the Government and we shall be liable to face arrest! The very thought is outrageous.
The very notion of freedom is hurled out of the window.
‘Have you ever nurtured a dream for so long that it begins to imply nothing but meaninglessness?’ She asked him, sliding her arm in his, as they sat overlooking the sunset over a distant horizon.
‘Elaborate, dear’, he replied nonchalantly.
A cool breeze brushed past the young couple. She tucked away curly locks behind her ear and smiled faintly.
‘Like holding on to memories until that remind of nothing. Like humming a familiar tune until you lose track of it. Like walking down a road you’ve trodden on so many times that all of a sudden you realize that you’re lost.’
He shook his head.
‘How can you be intrigued by things that don’t matter?’
She sighed. How deeply she wished he would see things and feel emotions the way she did.’ What matters then?’
He slipped his fingers into hers and said, ‘Ambitions, achievements, comfort, your love for me; these matter.’ She wondered if the order of the priorities in his life was reflected in the aforesaid sentence.
‘What about your love for me?’ She looked at her hand which he held firmly and tried to feel the touch but failed.
‘Don’t be silly. You know I love you.’ At this confirmation she lifted her head and looked at him. To her utter dismay, she now was looking at a complete stranger. Her words came mocking at her. . .
Like holding on to memories until that remind of nothing.
Like humming a familiar tune until you lose track of it.
Like walking down a road you’ve trodden on so many times that all of a sudden you realize that you’re lost.
Gently, she pulled herself from him and stood up.
‘Are you leaving already?’ he said.
She gazed at the crimson sky veiled in her heart’s disappointment.
‘It has been a long time coming. I must leave.’ She walked away, leaving him to his own thoughts.
The breeze blew past them yet again.
To him, comforting and mystical; to her, cold and ruthless.
Locked up within trecherous depths of apprehension,
a blatant assertion laid bare.
It shocks and surprises you,
it startles me.
Read between the lines and you will find out why.
And while you and me, go on distractedly,
holding on in speculation of ‘Perhaps,maybe,I wish, I hope. . . ‘
while the brutish truth stares in my eyes,
and I look away.
All the truth, like an open book.
And while choose to turn pages and be engrossed,
here’s a book wanting to be embedded in your intellectual spirit.
What you desire is mine.
And while we let go of the sadistic contempt made obvious,
hold my hand and lead me through.
I surrender my being to you.
Read between the lines.
Between the wrecks of a heart that has been bottled up
and thrown into a sea of crowded emotions.
Hoping to be picked up by you,
wishing to open up.
So desperately vying for an eternal kiss,
the ghost of an embrace that didn’t exist.
Between my thoughts and yours.
Let them entangle and become a perplexed storm,
painful to envision a lonely existence.
My feelings lie here, undressed, bare.
And in the glow that your eyes burn with,
they gleam and glisten.
In her eyes, the desire to win hearts
the limitations of being a frail woman.
And as she passes the powder puff over her sunken cheekbones,
a rolling diadem sparkles,
outlines the blinking charm beneath her forehead.
Arched brows, defined lips.
So often called seductive, so tenderly kissed.
Bites them and clings to the mirror.
Gives herself a steady gaze.
‘Who’s the fairest of them all?’
Walks through the corridor.
Confidently sinister, roughly appealing.
Climbs down the oak carved staircase.
Staggering steps, a dizzy vision.
Lustrous night black hair falling on ivory shoulders.
Makes herself a vodka shot. Old school.
Gulps it down her burning troat.
Lights the cigarette and watches the smoke rising, in childlike awe.
Shuts tight the angel eyes once again.
Is middle class Indian society ready to accept the gradual rebellion springing from its youth that had for long been kept bottled up? Small towns and cities are rapidly going global with the advent of consumerism, social media and the concept of individual expression. Multiplex and mall culture are giving to the young possibilities that were not dreamt of a decade earlier. Where is this leading us? Why inspite of such positive change, we lag behind in our mentality to accept notions so common to the west today like one night stands, relationships before marriage, live ins etc etc…
The parental authority is afraid of losing the control that it has gradually built up, dictating just everything- what you should wear, what friends you can have, how long you can stay out and if you might have a boyfriend/girlfriend. Things are changing and that is undeniable. Whether it is happening for the better or the worse is yet to be found out. The difference in ideology of the west and the east is star, and the same ideas that inspire in one society might be termed blasphemy in the other. But it still is the same for small cities where young boys and girls are now vulnerably exposed to the same popular cuture that there parents were screening them from. This generation of socially active tech savvy teenagers is finding itself at crossroads and desires strongly to be given a say, to understand the truth as it stands and to delete the myth regarding their sexuality. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why lesser known towns are witnessing a spurt in crime that involves the use of technology- morphed photographs leading to blackmailing, duplicating certificates like experts and copying what they see on TV.