It was a day of protests for Internet rights activists, many of them wearing the now famous Guy Fawkes masks, in different parts of the city on Saturday. While some chose unconventional venues such as the metro , others protested with banners and raised slogans against the clampdown on free speech on the Web.

Members of the Free Software Movement of Karnataka (FSMK) were seen ‘mask-less', raising slogans against what they called the government's “draconian moves” to police the Internet, at the Mysore Bank Circle, while supporters of the Indian wing of Anonymous wore masks and sat down for protest at Freedom Park.

Cyber attacks

The Anonymous gang, which claims to have been behind various distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on websites belonging to the government and companies, mainly comprised students and some working professionals.

Largely disorganised, the Anonymous protest was not as huge as expected, though a large number of people had promised to turn up on various Facebook groups, where most of the planning and networking happened. Members of the FSMK, who joined the Anonymous protest at Freedom Park, and then protested at the Mysore Bank Circle, said they were against censorship.

Though they are not part of the DDoS attacks, which explains the absence of masks, this is the second protest in a month the group has organised.

Well-known websites such as Torrentz and Vimeo, which are used to share files or videos, were blocked by Internet service providers (ISPs), Shruthi Jolly, an IT employee, told The Hindu. She said: “Someone has to take the first step. Internet is for the people. Why should our rights to blog and express ourselves be taken away?”

Condemning the IT Intermediary Guidelines that indirectly allow private parties to decide what limits to set to free speech, Vignesh Prabhu, an FSMK member, said: “We must understand that the Internet is the voice of society.”

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