See More on Facebook

News

India’s cyber legislation is part of a worrying trend

International technology firms face sweeping new regulations in India that have the potential to create major shifts in the country’s cyber landscape.


Written by

Updated: January 17, 2019

The new pieces of legislation were proposed as 2018 came to a close and require technology companies like Facebook and Google to store user data locally, and would also require these companies to police content and remove material the government of India deems unlawful.  Such content would include messages that threaten the “sovereignty and integrity of India.” The rules requires these companies to take action on such messages within a 24 hour period.

Such regulations that require companies to monitor content isn’t unique to India. Vietnam has recently passed similar laws, with similar potential consequences.

New rules also mandate that companies reveal the origin of particular messages when that information is requested. If that section of the law were enforced it would a deal a major blow in particular to Facebook’s popular messaging service WhatsApp, which boasts end-to-end encryption as a user privacy protection measure.

These new regulations will not only affect these companies’ ability to do business in India, but also, as the country’s edges closer to national elections, these rules have rights defenders worried about the potential they have to make online expressions of dissent even more fraught.

Laws like these follow along a worrying trend line in India.

2018 saw a slew of arrests against rights activists. Amnesty International called out this episode for “creating an atmosphere of fear” and accused the Indian government of threatening “core human rights values.” This episode sparked an online backlash and resulted in the creation of a hashtag that celebrated dissent freedom of expression, and constructive government critique.

Similarly, 2018 was a year for backsliding when it comes to Indian press freedom. India dropped by two spots on the 2018 Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, where it now sits at 138 out of 180 countries. In assessing its rankings, RSF identified the “deadly threat from Modi’s nationalism” as the main driver of that drop.

“With Hindu nationalists trying to purge all manifestations of “anti-national” thought from the national debate, self-censorship is growing in the mainstream media and journalists are increasingly the targets of online smear campaigns by the most radical nationalists, who vilify them and even threaten physical reprisals,” the report said.

As Indian voters get closer to making their voices heard, the government’s reaction to public dissent and criticism will certainly be something crucial to watch.

 



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Quinn Libson
About the Author: Quinn Libson is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

News

Rappler’s Maria Ressa arrested for cyber libel

Ressa is once again behind bars after Duterte’s government’s arrested the Rappler CEO. Rappler’s Chief Executive Officer Maria Ressa was arrested inside her news agency’s headquarters in Pasig City on Wednesday over a cyber libel case. Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) conducted the arrest at around 5 p.m., even as the warrant was already issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 on Tuesday, February 12. READ: Court orders arrest of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa As she was being ushered out of her office, Ressa said she was shocked by her sudden arrest. “It’s a shock, but we are going,” she told reporters. She also said that the NBI agents treated her professionally during the serving of the warr


By Philippine Daily Inquirer
February 14, 2019

News

China refutes Turkey’s Uighur claims

Turkey called for re-education camps to be closed and accused China of killing a popular musician. China on Monday strongly rejected Turkey’s “absurd lie” about the death of a Uygur folk musician, saying the Turkey’s claim extremely wrong and irresponsible. “China has made solemn representations to Turkey and is firmly opposed to its groundless accusations,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular news conference in Beijing. In a statement released on Saturday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry criticized the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and claimed that Abdurehim Heyit, who was sentenced to eight years in prison, had died. But Heyit appeared in a video released by China Radio International on Sunday. He said, “I’m in the process of being investigated for allegedly violating national laws” and &


By China Daily
February 13, 2019

News

US-NK summit to be held Feb. 27-28 in Vietnam

Trump said that much work remains to be done in his state-of-union address. US President Donald Trump reaffirmed his commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and confirmed the second summit between Pyongyang and Washington will take place in Vietnam on Feb. 27 and 28 during his State of the Union address Wednesday. “As part of a bold new diplomacy, we continue our historic push for peace on the Korean Peninsula,” he said during the speech, which focused on the country’s foreign policy and economic status. Trump highlighted his achievements in ongoing nuclear diplomacy with North Korea. “Our hostages have come home, nuclear te


By The Korea Herald
February 7, 2019

News

Basic Income in India has been tried before

Is Rahul Gandhi’s basic income a ploy, history holds on a lesson. Speaking to a rally of farmers in Chhattisgarh on Monday, opposition candidate Rahul Gandhi announced that if his party is voted into power in the country’s upcoming national elections then it will introduce a Universal Basic Income of sorts. The “minimum income guarantee” would go out to every “poor person” in India—meaning those that fall within a minimum threshold level of income—and could potentially replace other government welfare systems: subsidies on food, fuel, etc. By the international standard set out by the World Bank, nearly 22 percent of the Indian population falls below the poverty line.


By Quinn Libson
January 31, 2019

News

US and South Korea at odds over military costs

South Korea-US military cost-sharing deadlock drags out as US demands $1 billion. South Korea’s struggle to reach an agreement with the US for the cost of maintaining US troops here intensified when the gap between the total amount of Seoul’s contributions demanded by the US and that which Seoul was able to accept, as well as differences over the contract period, widened in December as a result of instructions from the very top in Washington, sources said Wednesday. Through a diplomatic channel, the US demanded in late December that South Korea pay $1.2 billion for costs related to the presence of the 28,500 US Armed Forces soldiers, under a contract valid for one year. The proposal, deemed to be an ultimatum from US President Donald Trump, stipulated that no offer less than $1 billion would be entertained.


By The Korea Herald
January 24, 2019

News

Record ¥4.5 tril. spent in Japan by foreign visitors

Tourism is increasingly becoming an important part of the Japanese market. A record high of ¥4.5 trillion was spent in Japan in 2018 by foreign visitors, according to the Japan Tourism Agency on Wednesday. The consumption per visitor, however, has continued to decline in recent years. The government is looking at ways to stimulate visitors’ consumption in order to achieve its target of ¥8 trillion spent in 2020. The number of visitors to Japan in 2018 reached 31.19 million, exceeding the 30 million mark for the first time. The government’s target of 40 million visitors in 2020 is in sight. On the other hand, consumption per visitor has been sluggish in recent years. In 2015, when visitors from countries such as China purchased home appliances and daily necessities in bulk, which was dubbed a bakugai shopping spree, the per-visitor consumption reached


By The Japan News
January 18, 2019