It is being observed for quite some time that legislators are not showing the required attention to ensure the welfare of Netizens. Examples are plenty. Some are highlighted below.
1. The arrests of two girls in Palghar, Maharashtra on Facebook postings, arrest of a businessman in Pondicherry for Twitter posting, arrest of cartoonists in various parts of the country, blocking of websites of different Net activists for innocuous political views, while at the same time genuine complainants being turned off by Police indicate the emergence of an arbitrary approach to law enforcement.
2. In most of the cases of Bank frauds, Banks refuse to lodge complaints with the Police as per RBI directions, public find it impossible to file complaints against the influential Bank officials who cause the loss through their contributory negligence, continued apathy of Bankers even to the mandatory guidelines of RBI indicate that Banks resist the regulatory authorities.
3.Small businesses like Cyber Cafes, Domain Name registrants are harassed by police actions while legal violations of influential business entities get a favoured treatment fromt he Police.
4.For the last two years Netizens have been knocking at the doors of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology for the appointment of a Chair person in Cyber Appellate Tribunal (CAT). The ministry remains unmoved. Matter has been referred to the President, PMO, Chief Justice of India and the general media. The response has been either absent or lukewarm. Netizens who were seeking remedy from CAT are therefore no where to go.
5. Adjudication system in most states are non functional. Functional adjudicators like in Tamil Nadu were transferred by political leaders who did not understand and appreciate their contribution to the society.
6.Karnataka went a step ahead with an adjudicator deciding not to entertain a majority of complaints under a wrong interpretation of law. The CJ, CM and other functionaries to whom the matter was referred are yet to respond. In the meantime Netizens keep waiting.
7. All efforts of e-Governance is focussed on how the Government can improve its revenue collection. On the other hand when Netizens demand online automatic registration of Police complaints, no Government has the resources or inclinations to act.
We can keep adding incidents to this list which indicate that Netizens are today not relevant for policy makers. We need to change this mindset.
We are already aware that social media has power. It has been seen in the mobilization of support to public actions not only in the Arab states but also during the Anna Hazare movement. We have seen that public action as in the case of Nirbhaya protests does help in moving the authorities though not always in time. If we can therefore combine the power of the social media with critical number of supporters, we can achieve some progress in making the voice of netizens heard at the level of decision makers.
Like all new ventures this starts as a dream. Let’s see how it gathers mass over a period of time. May be the time for such Netizen movement is yet to arrive.
But as we see more and more abuse of Cyber Laws, and as more and more victims of Cyber Crimes feel they are not serviced by the system and their complaints are being ignored by authorities, the importance of this movement will become visible and the dream becomes realizable. It may take years to achieve the critical mass but we are confident that eventually AIFON will be a force to reckon with.
Let’s try and make this happen as early as possible.