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Social media content creators need protection: Experts

Delhi,Media,Science/Tech, Thu, 29 Mar 2012 IANS

New Delhi, March 29 (IANS) Calling the country's IT rules as "flawed", experts at a seminar Thursday said the right to freedom of expression should also provide protection to the content creators.


Speaking at a debate organised by Foundation of Media Professionals (FMP) at the India International Centre, veteran journalist R. Jagannathan held "vested political interests" responsible for the attempts to curtail freedom of expression of media and censorship on social media.


"The attempts at curtailing freedom of expression are motivated by vested political interests, not a desire to remove religiously sensitive content or hate speeches," he said.


Hailing the internet as "the best thing that happened to journalism", Jagannathan said the web levelled the field and "anyone and everyone can have their say now".


"The fact that internet allows for guerrilla journalism, is what threatens the people in power," he added, giving the example of WikiLeaks.


Earlier, Lawrence Liang, a visiting fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies claimed that "while everyone has the right to be offended, the right to offend is almost non-existent".


Liang called for greater safeguards for content-creators as "anyone may get offended by some content and decide to drag the creators to court. While the big corporates can afford to fight lengthy legal battles, same is not true for individuals or small companies".


"There can be no freedom of speech without freedom after speech," he added.


Liang also claimed that the definition of 'offensive content' was also debatable as what may be offensive to someone, may be perfectly fine for others.


Lawyer Apar Gupta, agreed that the legal definition of offensive content was the main problem as "the lack of guidelines defining objectionable content makes it very easy for anyone to appeal for legal action against any content they find offensive."


Rajya Sabha member P. Rajeev recently moved an annulment motion against Intermediary Guidelines of IT rules that impose censorship responsibilities on the intermediaries such as Google and Facebook. He claimed that the motion will be taken up by the upper house during the second half of budget session.


Writer Shuddhabrata Sengupta claimed that it was surprising how the definition of offensive content changes in different contexts.


"In every religion, there are explicit descriptions of action to be taken against the non-believers. Its something which is the same as hate speech but since it is in religious context, it is perfectly fine for people," he claimed.


However, publisher and chief editor of Harper Collins, V.K. Karthika claimed that while the current IT laws needed amendments, there should also be a measure to safeguard the interests of content-creators such as authors against plagiarism and online piracy as these encroached on their intellectual rights.


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