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Here’s why you should be happy about India withdrawing its cybercrime proposal at the UN

Indian govt has withdrawn its Section 66A-like provision from its submissions to the UN Ad Hoc committee on cybercrime after receiving flak

What’s the news: The Indian government has concluded one inexplicable move with another as it withdrew provisions akin to Section 66A of the IT Act from its submissions to the United Nations Ad Hoc committee on cybercrime, reported Economic Times on January 24, 2023. India’s suggested provisions have been facing flak since June, 2022. Countries like the Nigeria, Luxembourg, Georgia, El Salvador, the European Union, and the United Kingdom have long since opposed such restrictions because they “impact freedom of speech and expression.” This comes as no surprise considering the Supreme Court of India also struck down the section in the  Shreya Singhal v Union of India case for the exact same reasons. Indian government presents a new policy document: After the barrage of opposition, India submitted a new policy document in August 2022 that removed any mention of Section 66A, said Economic Times. While the reason of the withdrawal remains a mystery – the Ministry of External Affairs refused to answer the paper’s queries seeking reasons for the withdrawal – the news nonetheless comes as welcome news for Indian citizens. The UN Ad-Hoc committee is working on creating an international convention to combat cybercrime – a phenomenon that impacts India particularly. What was Section 66A? The provision penalised any person sending offensive information using a computer or any other electronic device. The latest example of this was when a woman was penalised for criticising the Maharashtra government’s lockdown. Why it matters: When the earlier proposal was first introduced, many people…

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I'm interested in the shaping and strengthening of rights in the digital space. I cover cybersecurity, platform regulation, gig worker economy. In my free time, I'm either binge-watching an anime or off on a hike.

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