In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the French parliament has passed a law that makes it mandatory for social media and technology companies such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google to remove hateful content within 24 hours of being flagged by users. If the content pertains to terrorism and child pornography, it must be removed “within one hour”. Failure to comply could end in these companies facing fines of up to $1.36 million.
It is time India does something similar. I suggest this knowing fully well that such a law is prone to misuse. Governments in India could use it to throttle free speech, censor unfavourable content, and stifle rightful dissent. At the very least, most law enforcement agencies have stopped functioning independently and now work instead like an extension of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is in power at the Centre and in many states.