India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a new website and it’s one of the best looking websites the folks at National Informatics Centre ever made. However, in the website’s policy section it says that one should get permission from NIC before linking to it.

“Prior permission is required before hyperlinks are directed from any website/portal to this site. Permission for the same, stating the nature of the content on the pages from where the link has to be given and the exact language of the Hyperlink should be obtained by sending a request to Name,” it says on the website. It is not just the Prime Minister’s website that bears this relic of the past. Similar statements can be found on other Indian government websites like that of the Indian NavyEnforcement DirectorateMinistry of Panchayati RajIndia Post and tons more.

This sounds like a policy that existed back in the 90s and has been copy-pasted by someone at NIC without any consideration of the century we are living in. However, you don’t need to get permission in advance before linking to the NIC website itself. The linking policy states, “We do not object to you linking directly to the information that is hosted on our site and no prior permission is required for the same. However, we would like you to inform us about any links provided to our site so that you can be informed of any changes or updations therein. Also, we do not permit our pages to be loaded into frames on your site. Our website’s pages must load into a newly opened browser window of the user.” May be, NIC is not aware of all the tools one can use to spot all incoming links to a website.

What about enforcement?

If the statement demanding permission in advance is not laughable enough, it also wants us to specify which page, context and words on which the hyperlink will be placed. This is not possible in the age of Twitter. Does NIC expect everyone to request permission before tweeting out the link to the website? Even if I got permission from NIC before tweeting it, what is the guarantee that someone won’t embed that tweet on a website that is saying a lot of not-so-nice things about the PM?

Then there is the question about enforcement. If NIC finds me guilty and want to hold me accountable of posting a link to Prime Minister’s website, will it fine me or imprison me? And under what laws? Can you imagine a judge sentencing someone to a few weeks in prison for linking to Prime Minister’s website without permission? Such statements demanding prior permission does not make sense any more and we hope NIC removes it from Prime Minster’s website and from other government websites.

PS: We apologise to the good folks at NIC for linking to all these government websites without prior permission.