2018 was a glorious year for the incorporation of the entire concept of digital India. This terminology came into existence to bring India under the radar of the Internet. It was designed not just to empower the citizens of India and control their lives digitally but also to promote digital transactions and payments. That said, where is digital India heading with all the recent bans and prohibitions in place? Are we really moving towards a better tomorrow or is this all just a hoax that leads us nowhere?
Let us take a few recent examples and try to fathom why these bans are being put into place vis-à-vis the online world!
PUBG became a major phenomenon ever since it released as a mobile game in India. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds or PUBG as it is commonly known gained popularity from the very first day that it got introduced to the world. After getting prohibited in China, the rumor mill in India started circulating about whether or not the nation will see a ban of this much-loved mobile game too, leaving the fans thoroughly disappointed. Finally, the game was banned on the grounds that it was the cause of a lot of unnecessary nuisance and incidents of students ruining their lives as a result of this internet sensation.
Another ban that took India by a storm is that of Reddit where users failed to access their accounts on the platform. Contrary to popular beliefs, it was not the result of a server outage but Internet Service Providers or ISPs blocking the website. Thereafter, many popular telecommunication companies such as Vodafone and Jio started blocking the site one by one, and the site was considered to be inaccessible on these networks. This bizarre blocking of the website led to further chaos with people trying to circumvent the barrier.
Filtered Online Content
Then, December 2018 saw privacy under a literal siege as the Indian government decided to take it upon themselves to filter all of the digital platforms for “unlawful” content. This included the worldwide phenomenon and platform of WhatsApp too. The IT Ministry proposed several amendments to the Section 79-IT Act and forced the hand of online platforms by making them deploy technology proactively in order to filter all kinds of “unlawful” data. It was also moved that online platforms will be required to break their end-to-end encryption, effectively violating the privacy of the citizens of the nation.
Adult Sites Ban
The biggest shocker of all came in the form of India playing an effective net nanny by banning over 800 porn websites in the country and pissing off all the subscribers. Viewers of these adult sites naturally saw red and claimed in no uncertain terms that this ban was against all the net neutrality laws set by the country. Although the users felt like it was crucial for the government to take strict action against websites promoting child porn, BDSM and rape porn, banning all the other popular adult sites was a huge infraction of their privacy. This sudden ban particularly aggrieved those people who had legitimate paid annual subscriptions in place. Twitter was flooded with tweets from outraged viewers saying that #pornban was a strict violation of the country’s net neutrality laws which disallow any kind of discrimination against all content providers.
Food for Thought
And these bans are just the tip of the iceberg. Countless other mobile apps and websites are prohibited constantly on one pretext or another. So, where is digital India finally heading in 2019? Have we finally reached a point in time when it is okay for governments around the world to dictate what the viewers do and do not see? Is it okay to ban websites based on their content without leaving it to the viewer’s discretion? And who is the judge, jury, and executioner of these website bans and app bans in the country? Where is digital India heading? Certainly not towards viewer discretion or in favor of the net neutrality laws set by the government itself, that’s for sure! Are we really becoming more technologically advanced or are we simply losing control over our own lives in the garb of “right and wrong?” Maybe 2019 will be more forthcoming with the answers to these questions and more!
Stay tuned for the updates.
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