Earlier this week, the Delhi Government constituted a Committee for Peace and Harmony to investigate triggers which enabled last month’s Delhi riots. The Committee has already identified the proliferation of inciteful messaging across social networking platforms as a leading cause for the coordinated violence administered across North East Delhi. As a result the Committee intends to probe online hate speech and misinformation which is shared by social media users online. After a process of validation the Committee will forward complaints to the police and relevant authorities for formal investigation/prosecution. However, the Committee’s reporting mechanism, the vague nature of the punishable activity and the degree of punishment lends itself to risks of over censorship and chilling effect. IFF has written a letter to the Committee’s chairperson along with copies to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and IT Minister Kailash Gahlot. In it we have expressed concerns of how arbitrary criminal proceedings with vaguely defined grounds are incompatible with constitutional thresholds of free speech and expression. We have suggested corrective measures and apprised the Committee of established standards of incitement as articulated at international fora.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://internetfreedom.in/iff-writes-to-the-delhi-committee-for-peace-and-harmony-on-their-social-media-crackdown/