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Freedom of Speech and Expression with respect to Unregulated Digital Platform

Freedom of Speech and Expression with respect to Unregulated Digital Platform

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The one day webinar on Freedom of Speech and Expression with respect to Unregulated Digital Platform was organized by Educentric Consultants LLP where guests the speaker was Mr. Kushal Kumar, Founding Partner of Erudite Legal Law Firm who addressed the seminar which went for a duration of approximately 2:00 Hours. Mr. Kushal has graduated in law from Law College, Dehradun, and pursued his LLM in Criminal and Security Law from Uttaranchal University. In addition to the same, he has also pursued his Post Graduation Diploma in International Trade and Business Law from the Indian Society for International Law and also holds a Diploma in Cyber Laws.

Mr. Kushal initially introduced us about what is Freedom of Speech and Expression and its restrictions as defined under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. He explained the term with reference to social media. For him, it is a narrow caster, since it’s based on specified preferences. Moreover in his opinion, more searches on social media lead to the revelation of our secrecy.

He explained what are the grounds of Freedom of Speech and Expression on Digital platforms and how they are used through words, facial expression, art, drama, etc. All such ways of expression can be used freely on a digital platform and there is no restriction to it. This brings us to discuss the difference between regulated and unregulated digital platforms since not all digital platforms can freely post their content.

Under Regulated Digital Platforms any form of art which has certification before its release can be published. Only the content which is exploitive in nature for a certain group of people such as the content restricted to minor or content which hurts someone’s sentiments needs censorship. But unregulated digital platforms neither need any regulation nor any censorship, they are free to publish the content irrespective of what actually the matter is about.

Since this art has directly impacted the minds of people and society there is a need for regulation and censorship of Unregulated Digital Platforms.

In India, the government is making regulations for digital platforms, apart from government Internet and Mobile Association has made Code of Best Practices check and verify the content published but the major difficulty is that not all the digital platforms have signed this and these regulations are not binding. Moreover, the Indian government in 2011 has made intermediaries guidelines. But regulation of all these is difficult in practical aspects.

Apart from India in other countries like Singapore, UK, Turkey such regulations are already in force.

Before concluding the session Mr. Kushal told us about the cases which are pending in courts on similar subject matters such as Madhya Pradesh High Court Foundation case, Supreme Court –Justice for Rights Foundation case. He also talked about the recent case of Ms. Surleen Kaur and Shemaroo Entertainment Company, how in her standup act she used inappropriate words for ‘ISKCON and Hindus’ which hurt the sentiments of people all around.

Some main Queries raised by the students which were followed with the conclusion of the seminar:

  • How can the propagation of harmful propaganda by independent news channels be controlled? As news usually is very spontaneous and the time taken to moderate news will delay it and hence make it counterproductive.
  • Don’t you think that the government being in the position to censor the content will be able to curb anything and everything according to their morality?

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