The folly of an ‘atmanirbhar’ internet 

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News: The Big Tech companies have been alleged of the “weaponization” of digital platforms. They have been alleged to silence the Russian State media. 

Why the move of the big tech companies is right? 

The Kremlin-controlled media have created a narrative about genocide against the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine. They were doing false reports of Russian soldiers being welcomed as liberators by grateful Ukrainians.  

The controlled media did not show the fate of millions of refugees that were left homeless due to Russian Invasion.  

In Russia, the independent media including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were taken off-air. 

What are the factors in India-Russia relations? 

Both had grown their relationship based on arms supplies, hydrocarbons and the love for Bollywood films, especially Raj Kapoor.  

How have Russia and India dealt with digital media?

Both India and Russia have imposed stringent regulations on the social media platforms like Facebook, Google etc.  

– For example, Russia warned Google and other major platforms under the so-called “landing law”. It also warned the employees to be fined and arrested for non-compliance.  

Similarly, India issued such orders in February 2021, like platform to have office with an Indian address. They need to employ a chief compliance officer, a nodal contact person and a resident grievance officer. They were given three months to comply and the chief compliance officer would be criminally liable for content on the platform. 

Russia and India both have been trying to slow down the access to Twitter accounts about a year before. Both had made similar excuses like Twitter have failed to remove content relating to illegal drug use, child pornography and encouraging teen suicide. For example, Indian government had demanded the blocking of 500 accounts, etc. In this context, Indian authorities raided twitter offices.  

What is the way forward?

It is time for India’s path to diverge from what Russia is doing. It must check creation of a parallel internet along the lines of China, North Korea and Russia 

In democracies, the media that spreads disinformation must be curbed. It should not be allowed to justify a wrong war. 

“Atmanirbhar Internet” is not a desired thing in India. It is a globally connected digital common. It imparts knowledge relies on the freedom of expression and the freedom to draw upon others. 

If India must push for self-reliance, like reducing its disproportionate reliance on Russian weapons and hydrocarbons. 

Source: The post is based on an article “The folly of an atmanirbhar internet” published in the Indian Express on 30th March 2022. 

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