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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

Diplomacy, Stormy Daniels and the Karni Sena

This is the 66th installment of Rhyme and Reason, my weekly set of limericks for the Sunday Times of India…

Old Monk in the Supreme Court

This is the 65th installment of Rhyme and Reason, my weekly set of limericks for the Sunday Times of India…

Aadhaar and the Miracle Man

This is the 64th installment of Rhyme and Reason, my weekly set of limericks for the Sunday Times of India…

Vishy and Kamala

There’s no Rhyme & Reason this week as ToI had a special year-end issue, but hey, you still want your…

Jealous Guy

This is the 63rd installment of Rhyme and Reason, my weekly set of limericks for the Sunday Times of India…

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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