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FB arrests fallout: Will govt rethink and amend section 66(A) of IT Act?

CNN-IBN
Dec 01, 2012 at 08:28am IST

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New Delhi: Minister of State for Communication and IT, Milind Deora accepted misuse of the Information Technology (IT) Act and said that the government is open to making the law more objective to prevent further misuse. With pressure mounting from netizens, the government is under pressure to do a rethink and amend the Section 66(A) of the act. "As a minister of the department that has and will initiate this act, we are open to changes and suggestions. We don't think it's hard and fast rule and has to be applied like this for the rest of history. If there is better wording that can be used in this or any other section, we are open to it. We've never said that we have a closed mind," said Deora while speaking to CNN-IBN.

The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday issued notices to Centre, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Delhi and Puducherry governments over the petition on why Section 66(A) of the IT Act should not be scrapped. The Supreme Court notice comes after a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by a 21-year-old Delhi student. The Delhi University law student further said that the vagueness of the wording of the Section 66(A) of the act was hindering the freedom of the people. However, she agreed that some safeguards were also required.

ALSO SEE Outrage over FB posts arrests led me to file PIL against IT Act: DU student

Meanwhile, yet another Facebook account was allegedly hacked in Palghar. The police have received a complaint about some objectionable matter relating to late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray posted on a "fake" Facebook account of a local newspaper Palghar Mirror. It has alleged that a fake account was created in its name to post the objectionable image. The police say it will investigate. "We have received an application mentioning about the objectionable comments and photo against Thackeray on fake Facebook account. We are inquiring into the matter," an officer at Palghar police station said. This is the second complaint at the police station involving objectionable content against Bal Thackeray.

Earlier, two girls were arrested after they had criticised in a Facebook post the November 18 shutdown due to Thackeray's funeral. The two were later granted bail after they were remanded in 14-day judicial custody.

Even as the debate over Section 66(A) continues, Mumbai's Joint Police Commissioner, Himanshu Roy admitted that police officers need more training and sensitisation while dealing with cyber crimes. Speaking to IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Himanshu Roy said, "Cyber crime is a special type of crime, it needs specialised investigation skills which are not available with all police stations, which are more attuned to dealing with garden variety property and body offences. We need more training and more sensitisation there."

The voices from Palghar, the centre of the recent Facebook and online media controversy, maybe tinged with fear but the youth from the rest of the country are coming out in support of freedom of virtual expression. For Neethi Nair who makes a living out of social media, the online mantra has always been to tread with caution. As part of a brand consulting firm in Chennai, it was mandatory for Neethi to learn about the laws governing cyberspace. However, she admits they have little meaning in personal lives. "Professionally we have always been careful. We refrain from making politically incorrect comments and we take permission from our clients. Don't think it's fair to penalise someone for their comments as long as it's not raking up a mass hysteria. Amendments should be made to the act," said Neethi.

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