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About Amit Varma

Amit Varma is a writer based in Mumbai. He worked in journalism for over a decade, and won the Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2007. His bestselling novel, My Friend Sancho, was published in 2009. He is best known for his blog, India Uncut. His current project is a non-fiction book about the lack of personal and economic freedoms in post-Independence India.




Bastiat Prize 2007 Winner

Recent entries

Consent Won a Battle This Week. The War Remains

This is the 11th installment of The Rationalist, my column for the Times of India. Remember, remember, the sixth of…

What the Kerala Floods Tell Us About the Two Ideas of India

This is the 10th installment of The Rationalist, my column for the Times of India. A debate has been conducted…

Where Have All the Leaders Gone?

This is the first installment of Politics Without Romance, my monthly column with Bloomberg Quint. As the name indicates, this…

Test Cricket Is Dying, but Cricket Is Not

This is the first installment on a cricket column I have started for Cricket Next, in which I will write…

Every Act of Government Is an Act of Violence

This is the 9th installment of The Rationalist, my column for the Times of India. There was outrage on Twitter…

13 March, 2007

Orkut and censorship in India

Orkut has been at the heart of many storms in India (1, 2, 3, 4). Well, no doubt facing the threat of being blocked in India, they have agreed to cooperate with the Indian government to catch people who post “objectionable material on the web.” Indian Express reports:

Following a meeting between representatives of the site and the Enforcement Directorate last month, the Mumbai Police and Orkut have entered into an agreement to seal such cooperation in matters of objectionable material on the web.

“Early February, I met three representatives from Orkut.com, including a top official from the US. The other two were from Bangalore. We reached a working agreement whereby Orkut has agreed to provide us details of the ip address from which an objectionable message or blog has been posted on the site and the Internet service provider involved,” said DCP Enforcement, Sanjay Mohite.

The big worry here is what Mr Mohite means by “objectionable message or blog.” As I’d outlined in my WSJ Op-Ed, “Fighting Against Censorship,” free speech is coming under sustained attack in India, and giving offence is too often treated as a crime. I hope the Indian government won’t misuse this to act as a cultural or moral police: India isn’t China, and should have nothing to fear from free speech.

There’s more on this subject on Slashdot and Boing Boing.

(Links via separate emails from Neha Viswanathan and Kunal.)

Update: Brazilian authorities also get special access to censor Orkut. Details on Boing Boing.

Update 2: Google responds. (Scroll down.)

Posted by Amit Varma in Freedom | India

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