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India is ready to assign and define responsibilities in the freedom without responsibility internet world. Indian court and lawmakers want global Internet companies to be more responsible for the content on their websites. The Information Technology Intermediaries Guidelines draft was released on December 2018 and is opposed by most global Internet players. Like the rules on data localization the biggest arguments against these rules by these players is that it will split the Internet. The Internet has already been split into Chinese, EU and US Internet. It is a vacuous argument to see the Internet as one single entity where rules will be international and not national.
India is trying to control misinformation and fake news by assigning responsibilities to intermediaries. The government has guaranteed the Supreme Court that these rules will be enacted by January 2020. There are still several gaps in the rules that were made Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY). The definition of market intermediaries is too broad and open. The definition needs to differentiate between the different category of players and responsibility needs to be assigned category wise.
The first category comprises of infrastructure providers – the access providers to the Internet like ISPs and a subset of them in the form internet cafe. ISPs have two kinds of information subscriber information of who all has bought access from them and IP addresses of access to a particular website. If the access is over a WiFi then it becomes difficult to trace the IP though it’s not impossible. ISPs can block a website but the website still exists and can be accessed through a VPN. They can’t be held responsible for content as they can’t take down specific content unless. Hence their responsibility is limited and needs clarification.
The second category are platform providers. These are players who provide different services and are global players. If they are global players, they do not want to change their platform to meet the requirement of any national law. Global tech players view themselves as nation states and do not want other nations to dictate law to them. They want to dictate a law that will work for them globally. They don’t want to reconfigure their platform around laws for each country as it would break their platform in multiple segments.
It also involves engineering cost plus customization to local laws leads to complication with US and EU privacy and data norms. This is there defence against hate content.
This stance is clear from their submission to the Delhi high court as reported by Medianama. Facebook said that it is an intermediary … and has no role in starting transmission, selecting the receiver of any transmission … selecting or modifying the information in the transmissions. Facebook also said it didn’t have any obligations to proactively monitor content on its platform.
“Facebook also argued that the request for global blocking would result in a conflict of laws situation, as a global injunction might not be in accordance with laws in other jurisdictions and jeopardize Facebook’s status as an intermediary in other jurisdictions, Medianama reports. The Delhi HC judge had said that the company has to globally disable access to content if the court directs such content to remove it. The reason the court wants global removal as just geo blocking does not work and they can still access the content through a VPN and other means.
Medianama report says, Twitter submitted that a global blocking order would run contrary to the ‘principles of state sovereignty in international law and the principle of international comity’. It said that the laws relating to free speech and defamation are not co-extensive and differ from country to country.
“Any order for a global takedown or global blocking would interfere with the rights of the people over whom the Court has no jurisdiction.” Deriving the argument on principles of state sovereignty basically assumes Twitter sees itself as a nation state. And an order by Delhi HC does not really have jurisdiction over its functioning.
Global tech companies do not want to bend every national law. They want to negotiate for a single global standard typically emerging from their home country. Though almost every tech companies have made changes to their platform to meet China’s state requirements not just law. Chinese government censorship rules apply to all internet intermediaries including search engine and was the reason Google exited China in 2010.
China does not allow internet companies to access its market if they do not follow its diktats. Messaging platform like WahtsApp with encryption are not allowed in China. China has split the internet and censored it for Chinese users most large US based internet giants are not present on the Chinese internet. EU interprets privacy more strictly than US and global tech companies have to play a balancing act.
While India’s user base is large for global tech platforms the contribution to their revenue is minuscule as compared to EU or US. This means that India adds more to their valuation from user growth but does not really matter from a revenue perspective. Take Google India’s revenues of Rs 4,147 crores from India in the financial year ending on March 2019 compared to its global revenues of $136.2 bn for the fiscal year 2018-19 ending on December 2018, basically a rounding error.
Therefore, India can chortle all it wants about its importance in Googleplex. The reality is that Google will not spend engineering dollars to reconfigure its global products to meet Indian legal requirements. The same goes for every global tech company.
US Internet v/s EU Internet
If revenue from India was as big as the user base than these companies would invest to engineer their product. It is easier and cheaper to fight regulations in India than to reengineer the product.
Meanwhile, the passage of the CLOUD Act in US means that all US based cloud companies –Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft have to reveal data to US courts irrespective of where it is stored. This allow US government and countries which have signed a bilateral agreement with it to reach into a data centre anywhere in the world. This has already split the Internet into a US version where privacy of data is no longer applicable. Whereas European Union with its strict privacy laws under GDPR is struggling now to address the new version of US Internet.
Europe’s premier data agency European data protection board (EPDB), says The US CLOUD Act procedure for service providers to file a motion to quash or modify an US CLOUD Act warrant, is limited and subject to several conditions.” Service providers may not oppose the order on the ground of common law comity. What EDPB means is that US companies have very little defence to protect its data stored anywhere in the world to requests made by US and countries that have signed a mutual agreement. It gives the US government extraterritorial reach into data across the world.
EPDB’s also says, The US CLOUD Act opens the possibility for service providers to intercept or disclose the contents of a wire or electronic communication in response to an order from a foreign government including real-time interception. This has repercussions on end-to-end encryption of WhatsApp if it is using Facebook’s data centers to store its information. The US CLOUD Act also allows service providers to intercept or disclose the contents of a wire or electronic communication in response to an order from a foreign government this includes real-time interception. This is possible if the foreign government has entered into an executive agreement with the US.
Technically this opens up the possibility for say the UK government to look at the encrypted conversation on WhatsApp between Indian citizens. If tomorrow, Pakistan signs an executive agreement with US, it will get the same access while they will deny India and Indian courts this access. UK has already signed an agreement with US for access under the CLOUD Act.
Hypothetically, if all countries were sign an executive agreement with US the end-to-end encryption will be open to state surveillance. The opposition by these companies to India’s endeavours to tackle fake news and hate content will be tested both in court and Parliament in the coming months. The CLOUD Act shows that the US has clearly broken the rules of fair play as would apply to Internet. China has already barricaded access to the Internet. India will now set the boundaries as the largest Internet market for the world. (IANS)
"In India, to be born as a man is a crime, to question a woman is an atrocious crime, and this all because of those women who keep suppressing men in the name of feminism."
Feminism, a worldwide movement that started to establish, define and defend equal rights for women in all sections- economically, politically, and socially. India, being a patriarchal society gives a gender advantage to the men in the society thus, Indian feminists sought to fight against the culture-specific issue for women in India. Feminism itself is nothing but a simple movement that pursues equal rights for women (including transwomen) and against misogyny both external and internal. It states nowhere that women should get more wages than men, that women deserve more respect than men, that's pseudo-feminism.
Pseudo feminists state that women deserve more respect and rights, any other gender deserves no respect. They feel that women should be the ones ruling the world and at higher positions. When feminism takes a turn for extremities it becomes pseudo-feminism and people who label themselves as feminists will bash anyone who speaks against even the wrongdoings of a woman. They'll bash women who're wife and sisters for not speaking up and support any women criticizing political leaders even if it's completely irrational. This is where hypocrisy and pseudo-feminism merge with each other.
They take advantage of the rights given to women to protect themselves to threaten other genders. The rights given to women are supposed to make them feel reassured that they can reach out to the judiciary if their rights are being hampered not to threaten to make the victim sound like the culprit.
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Indian Feminist Movement has made significant progress however, even in the modern world women are still unsafe and are discriminated against when it comes to getting a job, land ownership, and access to education. While filling the official papers it is still asked "Wife of /Daughter of:….."
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family. Such injustices make feminism such an important movement, gender equality is worth fighting for to create a safe environment for women. Feminists over the years have been criticized for focusing on the rights of privileged women and not giving equal representation to poorer and lower caste women, which has led to separate caste-specific feminist organizations and movements.
Some notable milestones in the Feminist Movement
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy campaigned against Sati Pratha (practice in which a widow sacrificed herself by sitting atop her deceased husband's funeral pyre) and child marriage
- Savitribai Phule started the first school for girls at Bhidewada in Pune city in 1848.
- In 1972, SEWA, the biggest trade union for women was set up by Ela Bhatt for women working in the informal sector.
- The Chipko Movement was launched and led by women in 1973.
- #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and abuse was started in 2006 and revived in the year 2015.
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family.Unsplash
Feminism is often misunderstood as pseudo-feminism and hence, becomes the target for public hatred and is accused of wronging other genders under the façade of feminism. It is misunderstood by Indians as female domination instead of gender equality. Indian society and Indian feminists believe that only men are perpetrators of a heinous crime like rape and they refuse to even recognize the men who say they were raped and it's the toxic masculinity in the society that believes how can a woman rape a man? Reality is different from what we believe, women can be the perpetrator too, women threaten to file a case of domestic violence, or sexual assault against innocent people just to fulfill their ego.
Thankfully feminism and pseudo feminism are two separate concepts and feminism is just about equality and not judgment. Indian society and feminists actually need to understand the difference between the two and stop tarnishing the Feminist Movement as a whole.
Keywords: Feminism, World, India, Pseudo-Feminism, Gender
Kerala is a land of many good things. It has an abundance of nature, culture, art, and food. It is also a place of legend and myth, and is known for its popular folklore, the legend of Yakshi. This is not a popular tale outside the state, but it is common knowledge for travellers, especially those who fare through forests at night.
The legend of the yakshi is believed to be India's equivalent of the Romanian Dracula, except of course, the Yakshi is a female. Many Malayalis believe that the Yakshi wears a white saree and had long hair. She has a particular fragrance, which is believed to be the fragrance of the Indian devil-tree flowers. She seduces travellers with her beauty, and kills them brutally.
Yakshi idol in Veroor, Sri Dharamashastha temple Image source: wikimedia commons
The Yakshi is believed to live in a palm tree which can appear like a palace. Victims are taken here before they are killed. Travellers on highways are often advised not to stop near heavily forested areas, or speak to anyone who closely resembles a Yakshi. Some believe she can change form, while other hold to the belief that she doesn't. after securing her victim, the only trace left behind is body parts like hair, nails, and teeth.
They say, like other ghosts, a Yakshi's feet will not touch the ground. This is something to look out for. Mysterious deaths have been reported across the rural areas in Kerala, and all these have been attributed to the legend.
Keywords: Legends, Yakshi, Urban legend, Ghost, Kerala, Myth, Vampire
The LGBTQ+ acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and others. In India LGBTQ+ community also include a specific social group, part religious cult, and part caste: the Hijras. They are culturally defined either as "neither men nor women" or as men who become women by adopting women's dress and behavior. Section 377 of the India Penal code that criminalized all sexual acts "against the order of nature" i.e. engaging in oral sex or anal sex along with other homosexual activities were against the law, ripping homosexual people off of their basic human rights. Thus, the Indian Supreme Court ruled a portion of Section 377 unconstitutional on 6th September 2018.
But the question is, "was India always against homosexuality"? Has the concept of homosexuality being unnatural existed forever? No, in Indian history and Hinduism homosexuality has never been an offense, in fact in several instances it has been depicted how people embraced their identity, be it sexual identity or gender identity. Section 377 was brought to India by the British in 1862, while India was colonized. Even after the Independence, it was only in 2018 that the Supreme Court ruled it as irrational and illogical.
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Homosexuality in Ancient India
When Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality in India, there was an uproar about it being a western ideology and liberalism. But in reality, homosexuality has existed since the time of the Vedas. The Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association (GALVA) researched and discovered that it was around 3102 B.C. (during the Vedic Age) that homosexuality or non-normative sexual identity was recognized as "Tritiya Prakriti", or the third nature. Ancient India not only made mentions of homosexuality but accepted it as well.
Hinduism is the most vastly followed religion in India. Hinduism does not explicitly mention homosexuality however it does contain a homosexual theme and characters in its text. There have been various instances in our scriptures and texts that have introduced us to LGBT+ characters such as the androgynous form of Shiva and Parvati Ardhanariswara meaning "the half-female lord". One of the most popular and ancient texts on sexuality, eroticism, and emotional fulfillment of life, "Kamasutra" has a complete chapter dedicated to homosexuality and homosexual sex. Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities.
Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities. Facebook
Our Mughals were Queer
Mughals are often seen under the light of cruelty, rigid ethics, nobility, and polygamy. Simultaneously, Mughals are also the ones credited for the emergence of Sufism, abolished jizya tax, love beyond religion, classes, and gender.
In the Baburnama written in memoirs of our very first Mughal ruler Muhammad Babur, several instances documented Babur's infatuation and affection towards a teenage boy named Baburi. We also have multiple Persian couplets as evidence of Babur's affection for Baburi. Mughals engaged in homosexuality and pederasty, and they believed that later was a form of "pure love".
But as time passed homosexuality was suppressed more and more though people practiced it in secret if revealed they were punished. According to the Fatwa-e-Alamgiri Sharia-based text of the Mughal Empire, there is a common set of punishments for homosexuality, which could include 50 lashes for a slave, 100 for a free infidel, or death by stoning for a Muslim.
British Raj and Independence of India
In 1862, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalized homosexual sex came into force. Even after Independence in 1947, the section remained a part of the Indian Constitution. There were protests all over the country to give people of the LGBT+ community basic human rights but it was not until 2018 that The Supreme Court of India ruled the portion of Section 377 has unconstitutional and struck it off. One judge said the landmark decision would "pave the way for a better future.". With Section 377 gone are LGBT+ people allowed to fall in love freely? No, people are still afraid to love because of the stigma in our society when it comes to homosexuality; they are seen as lesser humans.
ALSO READ: Significant Support for Rights for LGBTQ+
Although the Supreme Court has decriminalized homosexual activities, same-sex marriage remains illegal in the country. Homophobia is still prevalent in India, and homosexual children would rather commit suicide than come out to society with their true identity, that's how harsh of a world we live in. Lacking support from family, society, or police, many gay rape victims do not report the crimes. In 1977, writer and Indian mathematician Shakuntla Devi published "The World of Homosexuals". It was the first study in the Indian context; the book contains interviews with homosexual men set in the years of Emergency. She wrote, "rather than pretending that homosexuals don't exist it is time we face the facts squarely in the eye and find room for homosexual people." We've had small victories in our fight against homophobia and getting LGBT+ community the rights they deserve as humans, but we still have a long and exhausting fight ahead of us.