There's a fine line between freedom of speech being used to express one's opinion or concern and defaming someone. And due to the Internet, the line is getting blurry. In a case against a blogger—Jitender Bagga and believers of the founder of NGO—Art of Living, the Delhi High Court has sided with the NGO followers' and asked Google to remove objectionable content against the NGO leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. While Google and Facebook fight for protecting India's freedom of speech in the Indian court of law, Google has more trouble coming their way.
The complaint against the blogger is for content posted on his blog hosted on Blogpost (owned by Google) at revolutionprithvi.blogspot.in and srisriravishankarisguruorconman.blogspot.in. The directive by the High Court seemed to be another harsh ruling biased against the Internet and freedom of speech. However, if one looks at the websites listed in the complaint and the content, it does appear that Jitender Bagga was vindictive and has an axe to grind. Voicing ones opinion as form of art or literature is one thing, going hammer and tongs against someone in a malicious and resentful attack, is something completely different.
In India the case against censorship and social media is being fiercely fought by a minority—the vocal web users, and the powerful government. Unfortunately for the people of India, the law seems to be siding with the government and in favor of censorship in most cases. While the initial complaint against 22 web companies operating in India was brought down to two—Google and Facebook, the companies are caught in the crossfire between freedom of speech and regional politics or communal harmony, take your pick.
The curbs are not limited just to the Internet, author Salman Rushdie has been facing some very tough times due to his book Satanic Verses, late artist MF Hussain died in exile. The focus being shifted to the Internet, a new platform for voicing opinions, should not be a surprise.