Censorship of contents and social media updates is very common in India. Since India is a very lucrative market, it is only natural for various technology companies and social media platforms to obey Indian Government orders even if they are unreasonable and clearly violating freedom of speech and expression.
We have been managing a website that is cataloguing various official and unofficial censorship activities of various technology companies and social media platforms. Although it was primarily meant for Google’s censorship yet we have decided to expand its scope and cover other companies and social media websites as well. We have also been managing the exclusive techno legal Centre of Excellence for Protection of Human Rights in Cyberspace (CEPHRC).
As per our analysis, Twitter has been censoring tweets pertaining to Aadhaar for long. It is not the obligation of Twitter to act as a brand ambassador or image maker of Indian Government in general and Aadhaar project in particular. Still Twitter has taken upon itself this task and is screening even the tweets that are merely critical about the Aadhaar project and its applicability.
We have observed that many of our tweets are systematically removed from the front page and dumped deep inside Twitter’s timeline where a dissent cannot be found. It is not for the Twitter to encourage positive tweets and discourage critical tweets about Aadhaar. But this is exactly what Twitter is doing at this point of time.
To reiterate our stand while exercising our right to speech and express, we say that Aadhaar is an endemic e-surveillance tool in the hands of Indian Government that must be immediately declared unconstitutional by Supreme Court of India. Both Central Government and States are making Aadhaar compulsory by direct and indirect means. But before the Supreme Court, Central Government has maintained that Aadhaar is not mandatory that statement is apparently misleading and false.
The proposed Digital India project of Central Government is heading towards big troubles in the present e-surveillance model of India. Projects like Aadhaar and Digital India cannot be “imposed” upon Indian Citizens but they must be positive, voluntary and pro active in nature. Twitter’s approach has proved that neither Twitter nor Indian Government cares about civil liberties protection in cyberspace.