Citizens' Issues
When the government violates its own Internet censorship rules

Several law enforcement agencies are circumventing the IT Act, the Indian Penal Code and ultimately the Constitution, by not following proper procedure for removal of online content

Internet censorship in the age of free information is still a debatable issue. However, several times, it becomes necessary for the government to block or remove certain content from the Internet in the larger interest of society. In India, the Department of Information Technology (DIT) is the only designated authority that can order content removal or website blocking. However, many times, several law enforcement agencies are found to be circumventing the DIT by not following proper procedure for removal of online content.

In addition, the information procured by the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act from the DIT and the latest Transparency report issued by Google show a wide gap. According to the reply from DIT, so far, six government officials and one politician have made requests for disabling access to certain online content under Section 69(A) of the IT Act. However, the report from Google says that it received 68 written requests from Indian law enforcement agencies for removal of 358 items from its various sites.

The statistics provided by the government show only eight separate requests made to the DIT, which under the IT Act is the only authority that can order blocking or removal of online content. These requests actually total up to 68—including 64 websites (at domain level), 1 sub-domain and 3 specific Web pages.

There are various reasons for blocking the online content, primary being adult content (61 domains), one domain and a sub-domain for specific communal issues and two specific pages, one a video speech of Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray on YouTube and one page of Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wikipedia.

Section 69 (A) of the IT Act empowers the Union Government to “direct any agency of the Government or intermediary to block for access by the public or cause to be blocked for access by the public any information generated, transmitted, received, stored or hosted in any computer resource” through a designated officer.

However, the ground reality is very different when it comes to following the procedures of the IT Act. While there are few who approach the Designated Officer for blocking online content, as per the Google report, there are a number of people, agencies and institutions that are sending requests directly to domains or registrars for removing content. While blocking of online content is regulated by the IT Act, forcible removal of content is not. However, this is what is happening, most of the times. Surprisingly, companies like Google oblige such requests even when they are not under any legal obligation to do so.

According to CIS, the DIT did not provide answers to two specific issues, whether any block ordered by the Department has even been revoked and the basis on which the Department decides the intermediary (Web host, internet service providers (ISPs) for sending content blocking orders. In addition, CIS said the DIT in its reply to the RTI application only provided minutes of one meeting of the committee (Committee for Examination of Requests, constituted under Rule 8(4) of the Blocking Rules) that decides whether to carry out a block, when it had requested for minutes of all the meetings it had held. The Committee is supposed to consider each single item in every request sent to the Designated Officer. The DIT has accepted that it sent 68 items for blocking to the Designated Officer through six requests. This shows there is something that does not add up. Either the Committee is not following the Blocking Rules or the DIT is not providing a complete reply under the RTI Act, said CIS.


Toyota Kirloskar’s sales at 10,762 units in October 2011

Toyota Kirloskar’s growth in sales is mainly driven by Toyota’s latest entrants Etios and Etios Liva , which sold 3,405 and 2,454 units respectively

Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) registered a growth of 63% in the month of October 2011, when compared to the same period last year. The company sold 10,762 units in October 2011 as compared to 6,602 units in October 2010.
The growth in sales is mainly driven by Toyota’s latest entrants Etios and Etios Liva , which sold 3,405 and 2,454 units respectively.

The Innova, Corolla Altis and Fortuner sold 3411, 700 and 763 units respectively.

“The production in October has been low due to the festive holidays. However, we have registered a growth in sales last month. The Etios continues to drive the sales growth,” said Sandeep Singh, deputy managing director-marketing, TKM.
The company registered a cumulative growth of 68%. It sold 1,06,246 units from January 2011 to October 2011 when compared to 63,158 units in the same period last year.


Fuel retailers pushing for Rs1.82 per litre hike in petrol price

HPCL director (finance) B Mukherjee said that with crude hovering at $108 per barrel in the overseas markets and the rupee depreciating to 49 per dollar in the last three months, the desired increase in retail price of petrol works out to Rs1.82 per litre

New Delhi: State-owned oil companies are pressing for a Rs1.82 per litre increase in petrol prices because of rupee depreciation and hardening of crude oil prices, reports PTI.

Public sector oil firms had in September raised petrol prices by Rs5 per litre.

“From today, there are some losses on petrol. To cover them, we may have to increase prices,” HPCL director (finance) B Mukherjee told reporters here.

He said that crude oil is hovering at around $108 per barrel in international markets, while the rupee has depreciated from 46.50 a dollar three months ago to over 49 per dollar now, increasing the cost of oil imports.

Mukherjee said the loss on petrol is currently Rs1.50 per litre and after including local levies, the desired increase in retail prices is Rs1.82 per litre.

“We are in discussion with other oil companies on raising prices. Let’s say, we are toying with the idea,’ he said, refusing to say when the country’s fuel prices would be raised.


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