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Internet freedom in India has Improved

According to internet freedom watchdog Freedom House, “Internet freedom in India has improved in the past year” in its report of 65 countries, with India having seen “positive developments relating to ‘regulatory framework, declining detentions for online speech and burgeoning digital access’, reported the WSJ, following the Supreme Court striking down section 66A _of the _IT Act:

Internet India

More than half of the countries included in the report saw online freedom deteriorate since June 2014, the report said.India improved its measure on two criteria: the obstacles to Internet access and violations of user rights. Its total score went up from 42 to 40, with Internet penetration leaping from 5% to 18% in the past five years. The lower the score, the better the country’s Internet freedom.

Key Developments

  • The Supreme Court struck down Section 66A of the IT Act in 2015, which had been the cause of several arrests for online speech, particularly on social media (see Legal Environment).
  • Though the Supreme Court also upheld the IT Act’s Section 69A, which authorizes government blocking of online content, it did make the blocking process more transparent, and strengthened intermediary liability protection (see Blocking and Filtering and Content Removal).
  • Website blocks ordered by the government or the courts temporarily affected entire platforms, such as Vimeo or Google Docs (see Blocking and Filtering).
  • In April 2015, over 1 million people rallied to protect net neutrality and prevent regulation allowing telecommunications providers to charge extra for select services (see Digital Activism).
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