As a fitting reply to the Charlie Hebdo attack, people across the globe and in India have been sharing the controversial cartoons on their social media accounts. And now, reports of the Mumbai Police blocking these posts are coming in. Not mentioning the ‘popular social networking site’, police spokesperson Dhananjay Kulkarni told Hindustan Times that over 650 posts have been blocked, with the police monitoring every post/page that they come across.
The police, which is not authorized directly to block anything, has contacted the server managers of the unnamed social media website in USA to do it. “We are in constant touch with the authorities managing the server of a popular networking site based in the United States of America (USA) to immediately block such posts and provide us with the IP address of the account holders,” Kulkarni said.
Both Facebook and Twitter have got their headquarters in USA, but the report fails to mention which company the Mumbai Police is in touch with. If the Mumbai Police is asking for the IP address, and the tech company is disseminating the information, this indicates that the Police intends to hunt down the post generator and possibly make an arrest for sharing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
This is not the first time the Police has weighed down heavily, due to an ‘offensive’ post. Just last month, the RAK Marg police station in Wadala, Mumbai booked lawyer Vijay Gaikwad for allegedly posting some offensive remarks against Prophet Mohammed on Facebook.
In 2012, two girls were arrested in Mumbai for posting a seemingly harmless status on Facebook questioning Mumbai shutdown after the death of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray. The other girl was arrested just for liking the post.
This blocking of Charlie Hebdo posts poses serious concerns of web censorship policies in India. Often posts and pages are blocked under the garb of hurting religious or political sentiments. Just in the beginning of the year, DoT blocked various sites including Vimeo, Imgur and Dailymotion from India, without any explanation.
As ISIS links in India continue to increase, with four boys from Kalyan just returning home after working for the terror outfit, the Police has understandably upped their game to combat any further radicalization due to social media. We also saw the ISIS agenda propagating ShaamiWitnessTwitter handle being traced back to Bangalore.
With respect to blocking any content of social media, Cyber expert Vijay Mukhi puts some light on it. “The police may request, but the server managers take the decision. In several instances in the past, the server managers have refused to entertain requests made from across the globe by enforcement agencies to act against controversial content, as they felt they were mere satires,” he told Hindustan Times.
With Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, just hours ago, issuing a statement on building a platform where users can speak freely without fear, it would be ironic to realize that Facebook is the one helping the Mumbai police block these posts.