Sunday, May 25, 2014
Towards a wonderful informative network.............. but how safely?
For the last full month while India was swept over by Modi vs Rahul vs Kejriwals for the general election, I was over swept by the joy of getting published in British Journal of Criminology. The article “Online Victimization of Andaman Jarawa Tribal Women: An Analysis of the ‘Human Safari’ YouTube Videos (2012) and Its Effects” (the online version can be found @ http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/05/05/bjc.azu026.abstract?keytype=ref&ijkey=3XNPIViieFGse4G ) has been published in one of the most coveted journals that any researcher can ask for. While researching for this I came to realise the new born habit of people: sharing controversial images and adding their thoughts to it. It can become extremely dangerous at times and the above article speaks on this.
There had been numbers of online propagandas on who is good, who has done the right things, who is bad and how he/she is bad in the course of election campaigns this year. Numerous cartoon images were made, animated short films were made and people were asked to share and comment. Some were noted by the respective political parties and the election commissionarate, majority of them went unnoticed. I found a new era in ‘free speech’ concept in India and I felt happy to note the liberal mindset of the people, especially the political campaigners to broaden the concept of free speech notion. But of course, there is other side of the coin as well. The recent arrest of the Goan resident for expressing some thoughts on Prime Minister elect Narendra Modi is an example (See http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/goan-youth-likely-to-face-arrest-for-anti-modi-facebook-comments/) . As the press release says, among the provisions brought in against the accused, S.153(A) of the IPC holds the key to make it a snow ball of problems. The Section prohibits causing enmity between groups on grounds of race, religion, place of birth, language etc. What was written by the youth that attracted such provisions is not known to us to still now. But it may be understood that while it was noticed by some as ‘offensive’, some have also pointed this arrest as wrong. It now depends upon the courts to decide whether the ‘post’ should be given the ‘protected speech’ status by overruling the lower courts who had denied anticipatory bail to the youth. In our article above one of my main focus was on showcasing how racial trolling took place in the YouTube videos and how the Jarawa women were made the centre points of these trolling. As far as my knowledge goes, no one was arrested for making comments some of which had every condition to attract the above provision. It was because the question of cross border jurisdiction was involved and the perceptions hugely differed. But nonetheless, I must say creating such comments in the cyber /digital space and spreading it through numerous people (who spread it because they liked the message/their friend, friend’s friend, or distant acquaintance has posted it ) had created riots in India; remember the recent exodus of north-eastern people from southern states? Or, the one image of a man kicking the Kargil memorial which became viral and caused violence? I am anxiously waiting for more news on the Goan case with my fingers crossed. Let us hope India’s notion about offensive speech is made more clear by the courts.
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”, 25th May,2014, published in http://cybervictims.blogspot.com/