199 Take-Down Requests, 1 Court Order

Shivam Vij a known adherent of Internet Freedom and limiting the government’s powers to censor the net has written a great post on Kafila, putting into context the take down data released by Google for Youtube Videos. His rule of law argument makes eminent sense. He essentially states that:

  1. There is no such things as too much internet freedom, however there is a thing known as, abuse of it.
  2. To check the abuse rather than directly pressuring the intermediary to take down the content aggrieved parties should approach courts.
  3. Courts should summon the defendant (rather than the intermediary such as youtube) and the Defendant should be given an opportunity to defend his posting.
  4. Courts should then balance the rights of free speech against the complaints of the Defendant (based on some usual grounds such as defamation, breach of privacy etc.) and issue an order.

This is in contrast to the present practice where Shivam says, “In the latest data for July-December 2010, Google has taken one small step further to tell us about the nature of requests. Our elected, democratic governments asked them to remove 199 YouTube videos, of which 100 were considered defamatory, and only one such was a court order!”. This is certainly a cause for alarm. I anticipate this trend to only increase with the new intermediary rules which put a noose around the neck of intermediaries such as google, facebook and twitter.

Finally the solution given in the article that a centralized office be there which provides details of such administrative acts, is a sensible compromise given that the goverment is prone to (and will also like to) issue adminstrative orders whereas private parties can approach courts for relief. Also given that the book banning orders which are issued by the Government are published in the Official Gazette, it would be in line with established practice of informing the public what is bieng blocked or taken down and the reasons for it . I have previously blogged on this here.

Picture Courtesy: The YouTube Playlist II by Profound Whatever under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 License
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