April 28, 2011

India Puts Tight Leash on Internet Free Speech

INDIA'S DEPARTMENT of Information Technology has quietly issued new rules for Internet free speech. The regulations restrict Web content that, among other things, can be considered "disparaging," "harassing," "blasphemous" or "hateful."

Critics of the new rules say the restrictions could severely curtail debate and discussion on the Internet.

The rules highlight the ambivalence with which Indian officials have long treated freedom of expression. The country's constitution allows "reasonable restrictions" on free speech but lawmakers have periodically stretched that definition to ban books, movies and other material about sensitive subjects like sex, politics and religion.

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