A report released by media watchdog website The Hoot said that covert state surveillance has risen last year, with higher government interception, monitoring of emails and telephone conversations. A whole gamut of free speech violations were observed in 2012 along with cases of privacy violations and hate speeches.
“From the literary and cinematic world to art and theatre, censorship continued in all arenas. Protests of vigilante groups against all manner of expression were seen and various political parties and social groups took offence against film songs, dialogues, movie titles, art exhibitions and theatre performances,” said Geeta Seshu, consulting editor of The Hoot.
Section 66 (A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and internet freedom were also under intense scrutiny after the arrests of two girls who posted a Facebook comment on Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray’s death. Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi was also arrested in the city under charges of sedition for insulting national honour and for sending offensive messages under the same draconian section.
The report titled ‘Fettering the Fourth Estate: Free Speech in 2012’ added that there were 41 instances of curbs on the Internet, 14 instances of censorship in the film and music industry, and eight instances of censorship of content in the print medium.
India (with 2,319 requests between January and June, 2012) was second only to the US in a list of countries demanding to take down content, stated a transparency report released by Google.
“Last year ended with a Kannada TV reporter Naveen Soorinje being jailed for more than fifty days after the Karnataka high court denied him bail. Mangalore-based Soorinje was incarcerated from November 7, 2012 after police charged him under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and under the Indian Penal Code for reporting on a raid at a homestay party by a Hindu fundamentalist group in July. Soorinje’s bail application was rejected on December 26,” said Seshu.