Arrests for social media posts: Internet is not a place where laws do not apply, says Chandrasekhar


Defending police action against individuals for social media posts, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology and Union Minister of State for skills development and entrepreneurship
said on Tuesday that it was a “misconception” that what is illegal in the real world is legal in the virtual world and that
“The Internet is not a place where (criminal) laws do not apply”.

Chandrasekhar, who is on a two-day visit to Gujarat, said anyone who believes an “indictment is wrong” can challenge the same in court. He was speaking during a media interaction on the sidelines of Startup Interaction: Fireside Chat and Open Interaction, jointly organized by the Department of Education, Government of Gujarat and Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara.

In response to a question about police action against individuals for their comments on social media, Chandrasekhar, without referring to a particular case, said: “To assume that what is illegal offline is legal online is a misconception… Our government’s view of the internet is the same as that of the offline world. The government believes that the Internet should be open and accessible to everyone, that it should be secure and reliable, but also responsible. So if you violate a conventional law in cyberspace, you have no immunity…”

Stating that the amended IT (intermediate) rules are aimed at protecting the rights of citizens, Chandrasekhar said: “Our laws are very clear, there is no doubt… We have equal rights and equal opportunities for all …and a clause in the Intermediate IT Rules is that the constitutional rights of all Indians will be upheld on all social media platforms.

Attributing a comment to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi that only 25 paise of a central government Re 1 grant reaches recipients, Chandrasekhar said: “Technology has changed the idea that our democracy is dysfunctional – We had to accept that there is corruption in our system but through DBT, PM Modi has proven that there can be a system of direct transfer to beneficiaries without leaks, without middlemen.

Adding that other countries in the world are “looking at India with admiration,” Chandrasekhar said, “Gujarat start-ups have a lot of skills in certain categories such as materials and chemicals, drones, software solutions. renewable energy, semiconductors and electronics…”

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