A series of arrests over emails, tweets and FB posts has sparked outrage. At the heart of the controversy is a provision under the IT Act — section 66A. Are powerful people using this piece of law to curb free speech? Or is the section necessary to check libellous posts? From today, HT brings you opinion pieces by prominent users of social media and professionals. The first one, ‘A note to offenders from the offended’, is by blogger Aditya Magal.
If you use social media, be wary. We want to let you know that your actions have consequences.
If you post something online and the something you post is deemed by us to be
critical offensive to what we do, what we believe in, and who we hold in high esteem, then we have the right to throw you in jail. The law allows us to do this. Do yourself a favour and read the Indian IT Act, especially Provision 66A.
We did it recently with two girls for Facebook posts. Earlier, we did it when a man tweeted against the finance minister's son. We didn't beat him up, we just had him arrested. That was us going easy. We've sued bloggers for questioning management 'gurus', journalists and politicians in the past. We've also thrown pilots in jail because they posted something against us.
If the law 'punishes' us, we get out on bail just like you. Those two girls paid Rs. 15,000 each for bail. When some of us were arrested for destroying property and injuring people in the same case, we got a discount on bail. It was a package deal you see. 50% off! We only paid 7,500 bucks per person.
Please don't think this is a violation of your constitutionally guaranteed and protected right to freedom of speech and expression. This isn't about your rights. It's about ours! The Offended.
We have powerful weapons in our arsenal like the Police and the IT Act and a whole laundry list of provisions. If all else fails, we also have the right to violence and intimidation.
The internet does not give you power, it gives you space. A space we will take away because you say things we don't like.
Section 66A works beautifully to punish you. And just to make extra sure that the message gets across, we'll even find out where you live, where you work and what your relatives do. We'll break and destroy. It's your fault, you offended us. You deserve it.
You can call us bullies but at the end of the day we are just humble citizens exercising our right to not be offended by your right to freedom speech and expression or whatever.
So the next time you want to use the internet, do your Google searches, YouTube,download ringtones, maybe even pirated films. Who cares? But don't say anything that is offensive to us. Please don't violate our rights.
PS: Please don't 'like' this on Facebook. If you do, well, you would offend us and that means we have to use 66A.
(The writer blogs at http://www.rakeshjhunjhunwala.in/ & can be found tweeting @jhunjhunwala)