“Right to Internet not Fundamental” says Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad

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New Delhi: In Rajya Sabha Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday said there is a misconception about the right to the Internet is a fundamental right that needs to be cleared, emphasize that the nations’ security was equally important.

Prasad during the Question Hour said communication of ideas and opinions through the Internet is part of the fundamental right to speech and expressions.

“The Supreme Court has stated that no lawyer argued that right to the Internet is a fundamental right… This kind of misconception needs to be corrected. What the top court has commented that for communication of your ideas and opinions the use of the Internet will also be holding a part of your fundamental right of speech and expression,” Prasad said.

Union Minister said no one can deny the abuse of the Internet for spreading violence and terrorism, and Pakistan has been doing it in Kashmir and ISIS prospered because of the Internet.

“The right of the Internet is needed, the security of India is equally important. Can we deny that the Internet which is abused by terrorists for violence and there have been attempts to create unrest in Kashmir from across the border through the Internet,” said Prasad.

He emphasized that the Constitution which provides rights lays equal stress on its regulation, saying “Use Internet but you cannot create violence and weaken unity, integrity, and security of India.”

Responding to a supplementary question by Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Prasad said that having been a former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir had also been on the hit list of terrorists and was aware of abuse of the Internet.

Whether it is a BJP government or any other government, Internet has been restricted many times on account of its abuse and “what the top court has done is they have said the temporary suspension of rules must be periodically reviewed”, Prasad said.

He said a committee at the Centre comprising the Home Secretary, the Law Secretary, and the IT Secretary reviews it periodically while there are committees in states too.

Union Minister said law and order is a state subject and decisions are taken based on the present situation which is reviewed periodically.

“Once the apex Court itself has announced that the use of the Internet to propagate one’s opinion and ideas will be held to be fundamental rights and I will like to flag…this will also be subject to reasonable restrictions…for public order, security and integrity of India,” he added.

Over J&K, he said he had recently visited the place and on-demand of apple growers at Sopore, which produces 300 varieties and sends out 450 trucks daily, had initiated the process of making it an e-mandi.

“People of Kashmir are happy,” Prasad said, adding voice, SMS and landline services have been restored in Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir, while Broadband functional in Jammu division.

He added, “The central government has allowed it for white-listed websites… there are 783 white-listed websites of government, banking, tourism, e-commerce, transportation, education,”.

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