1. What is 114a?
Section 114a is a new amendment to the Evidence Act 1950 that was passed in parliament without debate in April 2012. The section is called “Presumption of fact in publication”. It states that any owner, admin, host, editor, subscriber of a network or website, or owner of computer or mobile device is presumed to have published or re-published its contents.
2. Why is it a problem?
It has wide-ranging reach and extends not only to practically everyone who uses any Internet platform – from e-mail and social media to blogs and online media – but also those who don’t.
It is a problem because:
i) It presumes guilt rather than innocence.
ii) It makes individuals and organisations who administer, operate or provide spaces for online community forums, blogging and hosting services, liable for content that is published through its services.
iii) It allows hackers and cyber criminals to go free by making the person whose account/computer is hacked liable for any content/data which might have changed.
iv) It can make you liable for content that you did not publish when someone creates an account in your name.
v) It threatens the principle of anonymity online, which is crucial in promoting a free and open Internet.
vi) It threatens freedom of expression online.
In other words, it is against the core principles of justice, democracy and fundamental human rights.
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