Monday, March 30, 2015

India is only "Partly Free", But things are improving

Source: Freedom on the Net Report 2014, The Freedom House

The Freedom House, an independent agency based in Washington DC, annually surveys the extent of freedom of speech on the internet in 65 countries and publishes annual Freedom on the Net Reports. The organization has so far published 4 reports starting from 2011. Ratings are assigned on the aspects of obstacles to access, limits on contents and violation of user rights. The Report also assesses  a net score for a country on a scale of 0 to 100 (0 being the best). A country that scores less than 30 is classified as "Free", with score between 30 & 60 as "Partly Free" and with a score above 60 as "Not Free".

According to the 2014 report, 19 countries have been classified as "Free", with Iceland having the best score of 6. 31 countries are classified as "Partly Free" and 15 as "Not Free" (see - Country scores). India, with a score of 42 is right at the median of the distribution. India's scores in the 4 years unto 2014 have been fluctuating (32, 36, 47, 42). After having deteriorated for 2 years (2012 & 2013), there some improvement in 2014 (reduction of 5 points from 47).

The recent Supreme Court decision to repeal section 66A of the IT Amendment Act of 2008, shall go a long way in reducing violations of user rights and ensuring a higher degree of freedom of speech on the internet. Further improvements can be made by providing for appropriate oversight (judicial or administrative) for decisions of blocking websites under section 69A of the Act. Hope things would improve in coming days.

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