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By Zeyad Masroor KhanNovember 30, 2022
Free and open internet is under attack, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in an interview while expressing concerns ove legislations introduced in several countries to scuttle the flow of information.
Speaking with BBC, Pichai said the threat to internet freedom is emerging from different parts of the world. Responding to a question over different legislations on online content, with regard to free speech, Pichai said “It is more of a step back. I think a free and open internet is a tremendous force for good and we take it for granted a bit.”
“In each country now, there is a debate what speech is OK and what should be allowed. In some ways, I think we pull back from the bigger picture that many countries around the world are restricting the flow of information and drawing much more rigid boundaries.”
The Google chief went on to urge countries upholding democratic traditions and values to take a stand against the fracturing of the internet.
Pichai’s remarks come at a time when Indian government has enforced new IT rules on social media platforms, news publishers, OTT websites and search engines.
The new rules will virtually bring these platforms, for the first time, under the ambit of government supervision. The regulations mandated that social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Twitter, Signal and Facebook will now have to give details about the origin of a tweet or a message on being asked by either a court or a government authority. It also requires social media companies to set up a three-tier grievance redressal framework.One of the key regulations of these rules is administrative surveillance and the deletion of “offensive” content upon official orders. Critics argue the rules violate users’ right to privacy and freedom of expression.
Last month, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression wrote a letter to the Indian government, slamming some of the provisions of the newly enacted law. The government, however, insists the laws will “empower and protect users…”.