66A of India's IT Act – Trying to Control Legitimate Free Online Speech

66A of India’s IT Act – Trying to Control Legitimate Free Online Speech

There have been a number of controversies in the last couple of years about the ambiguous use of Section 66A of the modified Indian Information Technology Act, 2000. Professor Ambikesh Mahapatra was arrested under this section, couple of years back, for using Facebook to forward caricatures of Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee. A Twitter case of Mr. Ravi Srinivasan showed how somebody’s tweet on corruption can be brought within the ambit of this section.

In Mr. KV Rao’s case, he along with Mayank from Mumbai, were arrested for posting offensive comments on their Facebook group, against some leader.

One other case is of Shaheen Dhada, who was arrested for a rather harmless Facebook post. Rinu Srinivasan, a friend of hers, was detained for liking the post. There was a lot of outrage from all quarters, over the way two innocent citizens were harassed using Indian cyberlaw.

We have seen numerous discussions about our defective IT legislation and the urgent need for changing it. This article explains in a layman’s language about Section 66A of the amended Indian Information Technology Act, 2000.

Under Section 66A, it is an offense to send any of the below mentioned information, through a communication device or a computer resource and will be considered a Cyber attack.

• Any information that is immensely offensive.
• Any information containing a menacing character.
• Any information which is known to be false, but is sent with the purpose of causing annoyance.
• Any false information sent with the purpose of causing inconvenience.
• Any false information sent with the purpose of causing danger.
• Any false information sent with the purpose of causing obstruction.
• Any false information sent with the purpose of causing insult.
• Any false information sent with the purpose of causing an injury.
• Any false information sent with the purpose of causing criminal intimidation.
• Any false information sent with the purpose of causing enmity.
• Any false information sent with the purpose of causing hatred.
• Any false information sent with the purpose of causing ill will.

All of the above should be done actively through a communication device or a computer resource.

So, if you are a mobile, computer system or social media user, you should be careful as you could be accused within the Section 66A of the amended Indian Information Technology Act, 2000. Till the time Section 66A is changed, amended or modified, it is important to be alert while sending information on social media, mobile or the internet.



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