In light of the recent ban imposed by the government on 59 apps of predominantly Chinese origin, I write with Anupriya from NLUD to dissect the implications of the same. We argue that the ban falls foul of the right to free speech and expression as well as the procedure mandated by the IT Act. The piece is carried by Scroll and is available here.
Part of our argument prior to editorial changes cited Payal Arora’s work on fictionalizing the digital behaviours of the marginalised. For instance, it is assumed that farmers would use the internet for agricultural best practices and women would chiefly use it to gain health and educational information. TikTok resists these essentialisms. It reveals that despite material constraints, users are often motivated by romance, purposelessness, leisure, entertainment and play in their use of the internet. Without TikTok, we lose out on speech that is more diverse and the social good of accommodating and engaging a wider range of speakers and audiences, resulting in an ultimately shriveled marketplace of ideas. TikTok reimagines the marginalised by allowing them not just visibility that more expensive forms of content creation never could, but also the means to be seen on their own terms and create their own narratives.
A great explainer of Section 69A has been published by Medianama here.
In the name of security concerns, the ban seeks to ignore the framework of the law and sets a bad precedent allowing for a greater leverage to prohibit free speech in the future. Hence, it is imperative to generate a greater discourse around the same.
Happy to hear everyone’s thoughts on the issue!