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24 April 2017 Question Bank


24th APRIL 2017 


(2 Questions)

Answer questions in NOT MORE than 200 words each. Content of the answer is more important than its length.

Links are provided for reference. You can also use the Internet fruitfully to further enhance and strengthen your answers.

1.     As the debate on ‘fake news’ rages worldwide, discuss about its local manifestations in India.


Propaganda becomes news

  • When people look only to private media for factual information and news, chances are that a lie doing the rounds eventually establishes itself as truth.
  • It travels the full course — passed on from Facebook, tweeted into shared accounts, across thousands of unsure minds, spreading like wild fire without proof or doubt — till opinion becomes fact, and belief becomes total.
  • In a world where there is no difference between broadcast journalism, print, or social media, anything is capable of becoming news.
  • Wikipedia allows anyone to propose information related to its growing archive, however inaccurate — all in the hope that the open format will itself act as an editorial corrective, and eventually the inputs of many will inform and embellish each sketch into coherence. Is this any way to work a legitimate entry into the world’s most informed network encyclopaedia?
  • Thanks to U.S. President Donald Trump’s irresponsible statement that former President Barack Obama was foreign-born, millions in the U.S. now believe that Mr. Obama is a foreigner, despite the retraction.

In India:

  • In a country like ours, with cultural and religious diversity practised, but with social inhibitions still strong, and the freedom to speak openly, a constitutional right but a public handicap, private media platforms present a challenge.
  • For a population still largely uneducated and entirely unused to a cosmopolitanism co-existence, the urgency to believe in something, anything, is often a need not based on informed opinion.
  • A well-known doctor in Bihar was announced dead on WhatsApp after an income tax raid at his house declared vast hoardings of illegal currency. It took a press conference for him to pronounce both his innocence and existence.
  • When something happens, the consequences are unlikely to be contested in courts, but more likely to be tested in the battlefield of the city.



2.     The rights of Internet users have come up for debate in recent times. What steps have been taken by the judiciary and the government in this regard?


  • So far, the Supreme Court has made it clear that it wants to protect the rights of the citizen and make Internet companies liable under Indian laws. But the court is against imposing any general online ban.
  • This, it said in a recent order, would curtail the right of the “genuine information- seeker to gain knowledge and information from the Internet.”
  • A slew of cases, ranging from a privacy challenge to a 2016 policy entered into between WhatsApp and Facebook to posting of online sexual videos to the presence of pre-natal sex determination advertisements on the Internet to the safety of online cash transactions, have grabbed the Supreme Court’s attention and time.
  • Counsel for Prajwala, the NGO which moved the court about how social media is misused by criminals to post and share sexual offence videos of women and children, said Internet companies should be held responsible for such materials finding their way into their online domains.
  • While the Internet companies have repeatedly said it was impossible to forestall a person from posting objectionable content online, these cases have led the court to order Internet companies to set up in-house expert bodies to scour the Internet and remove objectionable and illegal content.
  • The litigation has further triggered the government to appoint nodal officers at State levels to keep tabs on the Net for offensive material.
  • The government’s officers would alert the search engines, who are liable to remove the objectionable material within the next 36 hours.
  • Again, the ‘right to be left alone’ in the virtual world is gaining prominence as a subject of litigation in the Supreme Court.
  • A Constitution Bench of five judges has started hearing two law students who have challenged the 2016 contract entered into by WhatsApp to give Facebook access to information and personal details shared by millions of its users is a violation of their privacy and free speech.
  • Senior advocate K.K. Venugopal has said that the case would see a re-look of two Constitution Bench decisions — the 1954 eight judge Bench verdict in M.P. Sharma’s case and the six judge Bench judgment of 1962 in Kharak Singh on the nature of right to privacy.
  • Both judgments had categorically rejected the existence of privacy as a guaranteed right under Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution.
  • Mr. Venugopal suggested that a nine-judge Bench hear the case.

Government’s efforts:

  • The government has also conveyed the urgency to protect privacy and personal data on the Internet.
  • Attorney- General Mukul Rohatgi informed the Supreme Court that the government is working post-haste on “overarching data protection” laws to protect individual’s online privacy and ‘right to be forgotten’.
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