India strikes down controversial « Section 66A » social media policing law

India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday repealed a controversial law after civil rights groups and a law student filed petitions arguing that it violated people’s rights to freedom of speech and expression.

NDTV quoted Justice RF Nariman, one of the two presiding judges, as saying « Section 66A is unconstitutional and we have no hesitation in striking it down ».

Section 66A of the Information Act, 2000, had previously seen people arrested for comments left on Facebook, Twitter and other websites.

Unlike the case of Paul Chambers who was, quite rightly, arrested for a ‘joke’ tweet about blowing up Robin Hood airport in Nottingham, England, many of those detained in India were allegedly guilty of posting what we, in the West, would consider to be ‘non-criminal’ comments.

In India, however, Section 66A had criminalised the publishing of any information that could be deemed to be « false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will ».

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