Internet freedom is partly free in India: FOTN 2015 Report

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Who: Freedom on the Net 2015 report
What: Released
When: 28 October 2015

Internet freedom is partly free in India. It was revealed by the Freedom on the Net (FOTN) Report 2015 that was released on 28 October 2015 by Freedom House.

As per the report, India tied with African countries like Malawi and Zambia with 40 points overall on a 0-100 (Best-Worst) scale to retain the partly free status. However, compared to the FOTN Report 2014 it lost two points as the institutional curbs on internet freedom on rise amidst growing social tensions.

India’s performance in three key areas-obstacles to access, limits on content and violations of user rights- is as follows

Obstacles to access: The score was 12 on a 0-25 scale, wherein 25 represent the worst, as only 18 percent of 1.29 billion Indians are connected to the internet.

Though mobile penetration, reaching 77 percent, once again playing a critical role in improving access, infrastructure continues to remain a significant barrier to access.

However, various governmental and nongovernmental initiatives such as the Digital India Initiative have been introduced in 2015 to address the inadequacies.

Further, India’s future in this segment looks bright which is evident from the Global Information Technology Report 2015 that ranked India first out of 143 countries for affordable internet access, with per minute cellular and fixed broadband tariffs among the lowest in the world.

Limits on content: The score was 10 on a 0-35 scale wherein 35 represent the worst.

Content blocking increased in 2014 with various instances of overbroad blocking and copyright restrictions. However, the striking down of Section 66A of the IT Act, which had been the cause of several arrests for online speech, by the Supreme Court is a welcome step.

Violations of user rights: The score was 18 on a 0-40 scale wherein 40 represent the worst.

The number of criminal complaints regarding online content filed were quite high. Further, intimidation and violence against women was especially prevalent as a result of online activity and online activity also led to an increase in religious tensions in recent times.

About the report

• The report was prepared by Freedom House with the donations from Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL), Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter.
• Freedom House is a USA-based non-governmental organisation.
• The 2015 ratings reflect the period 1 January through 31 December 2014.