It's a regular day at the Parappana Agrahara prison in Bangalore. The media has arrived to interview high profile criminals held there. Among politicians accused of land grabbing and corruption, and industrialists, is a young boy. When asked what he had done to land up there, he says: “I blogged.” The media and other “high-profile” criminals scoff at him for not being “criminal enough”.
This was the plot of one of the skits performed outside Town Hall, where a young, energetic crowd gathered to protest against the “clampdown on freedom of speech on the Internet”.
Over 100 people participated in the protests, including IT workers and students from engineering colleges here.
The protest was organised by the Free Software Movement of Karnataka (FSMK), in collaboration with the Software Freedom Law Centre. The performances, singing and short speeches delivered by students and bloggers culminated in a candle light vigil here.
Senthil S., a software engineer and FSMK member, said there was clear evidence now, with cases such as that of the professor in West Bengal and the government's requests to take down political content, that political dissent (online) was being stifled.
“It's absurd to censor. We want this silly law to be withdrawn,” says Deepthi, an IT professional, referring to the IT (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules, 2011. Raghuram, an FSMK member said: “We aren't against censorship of hate speech. But allowing monitoring of all that we say breaches my privacy.”