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India Facebook arrests mirror British censorship

I’ve been talking about British censorship on social networks Twitter and Facebook a lot here at Kitguru in the past few weeks. From the Poppy Burning fiasco, to the extended look into social networking and freedom of speech, the fact that people are getting in legal trouble for making single, insensitive comments on social networks is troubling. However the UK isn’t the only country using the authorities to police its online discussions, India is doing it too.

Newsvine is reporting that an Indian women posted a comment about the recent financial sector shut down due to a funeral for a politician linked with mob violence, saying that it was “due to fear, not due to respect.” She was summarily arrested for posting this, as was her friend that “liked” it.

Kapil Sibal
Kapil Sibal: One of the few politicians that stood up for the young women

However unlike here where the outcry is quite minor, it’s proved far more controversial in India. The media has been hitting out at the government, describing it as misusing the law to curb freedom of expression, while ex ministers, including one former Supreme Court Justice, have called for those that perpetrated the arrests to face trial themselves.

The two women are charged with ‘creating emnity and hatred,’ though they have now been released on bail. The original poster, 21 year old Shaheen Dhada has issued a public apology – in the wake of her uncle’s medical facility being ransacked. Nine men have now been arrested in conjunctions with the looting.

One other politician speaking out about the arrest was IT minister Kapil Sibal, who said that: “Freedom of speech is a very important right, and we need to protect it.”

KitGuru Says: This is a growing trend around the world, but it’s good to see some Indian politicians stand up to it. Hopefully we’ll see the same here in the UK before long.

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