Dangerous for free speech: Cong on govt’s new social media policy

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Days after the government framed new rules to hold social media and Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms accountable for content, the Congress on Saturday said the Centre is arming itself with “vast powers” and argued it was extremely dangerous for free speech and for creativity unless extreme restraint was exercised.

Arguing that nobody was suggesting that there should be “unregulated, unknown virgin territory forever in any area”, the Congress said that at the same time “there should be no attempt in the guise of non-statutory, delegated legislation, rules and executive orders, in getting control of such a vast field.”

“The problem is that no act has been passed yet. You have taken almost 3-4 years in even doing a Data Protection Act….While all that is pending, you have brought such far reaching changes and the Czar, the monarch, the master of the universe is a bureaucrat. So, I would say that it is extremely dangerous for free speech, for creativity, unless extreme restraint is exercised and unfortunately, I do not find any restraint in this government in any sector,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said at an AICC press conference.

In a nutshell, he said “humongous, vast powers have been granted without statute, without parliamentary assent, without parliamentary scrutiny and their operation depends on the wisdom and restraint of bureaucrats who exercise them. Such restraint in many other sectors is conspicuous by its absence as far as this Government is concerned,” he added.

Singhvi also slammed the Government over the rise in fuel prices.

“The Narendra Modi Government has been the most mehngi sarkaar (expensive government) for the people. It has taxed them heavily left, right and centre. This arrogant government refuses to acknowledge people’s problems or give any relief to them. It only tries to divide, deceive, dupe, distract and delude, the five favourite Ds of ‘hum do, hamare do sarkaar’,” Singhvi said.

He said it was unimaginable that in Covid times, fuel prices are shooting up like this. He said even the RBI Governor had just a couple of days ago warned that the rise in prices of petrol and diesel will have a cascading effect.



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