Friday, February 1, 2019

2019 resolutions? We seem to be keeping them

Yes, we did slip up by not sending you a customary new year's greeting email but we felt it would be more meaningful to assess our performance over January and then send you an update.

It's also been a month of action for IFF where we have taken a range of actions.

Free Expression: As threats grow to online censorship, through censorship codes, the revival of Section 66A (yes, we discovered it was still being used despite being ruled as unconstitutional!) and internet shutdowns we fought back. Our work over the past month includes a court intervention through the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), parliamentary briefings and notices to various bodies, particularly on online video streaming services. Surely, we do not want to watch a censored final season of the Game of Thrones? 

Privacy: We have gone to Supreme Court to challenge not only the MHA notification but sought a meaningful review of digital surveillance. This is an ongoing engagement to safeguard your personal data through the #SaveOurPrivacy campaign. We have also organised parliamentary briefings for MPs and their offices on legislation that impact your privacy rights. We even revealed the full text of the Intermediary Rules and put out an analysis on how it was taking us towards a china model of digital command and control. 

Net Neutrality and Innovation: We have continued to correspond with government bodies, have participated and raised awareness around a TRAI consultation that could lead to licensing of internet platforms. We are not giving up on saving the internet!

Yes, this may seem like dull, boring work, but it is incredibly important. We fail in our battles for protections and rights because engaging with government bodies is tough and complex. This is not how it should be. That's why we post simple, concise explainers on the IFF website.

I would also like to take this moment to consider donating to IFF and helping us hire staff! We need your help to scale up as this promises to be a critical year for our digital rights.

Thank you for your continuing support. 
 
Apar,
Executive Director,
Internet Freedom Foundation





Monday, December 31, 2018

Year of action against Internet Shutdowns

Last year in April many of you signed onto the KeepUsOnline.in campaign against internet shutdowns. More than 15,000 people signed a petition that we took to the government and asked them to stop cutting our internet access. While we have had many modest victories -- in courts, parliament and the wider public arena, this problem has only grown in scale. India remains the No. 1 country globally that disrupts online access even for trivial issues such as preventing cheating in exams.

This is a national shame. It undermines our fundamental rights to life, liberty and expression. It has caused economic damage of thousands of crores and disrupted essential services such as debit and credit card transactions.

As 2018 draws to a close we pause for reflection. In our work, we have realized that changing legal rules and fighting for human freedom and liberty through and within technologies has become a priority for all of us. We all hope for radical change, but often results are built in smaller chunks of incremental victories. We are optimistic that next year, we will be able to do more.

I personally would like to thank you for speaking up for the free and open internet and invite you to our website to see how we are continuously working with strategy, rigor and belief to achieve the goals of fundamental rights within and beyond technology. If you like our work and want to support us, please write back to me and also consider a donation. Our work relies on the generosity of ordinary internet users like you.

If you would like to volunteer your skills and time please do write to me at apar@internetfreedom.in

Thank you for your time,

Apar,
Executive Director,
Internet Freedom Foundation

Please note IFF a public charitable organisation registered under Sections of 12A and an 80G of the Income Tax Act. Click here for more information on IFF's financial disclosures





Friday, December 7, 2018

A Letter

It was a rainy morning of monsoon. Sraddha(A Hindu Ritual) was being performed, the entire sky has been occupied with crows. Although, the population of birds has dwindled because of the pollution, as per the ancient Hindu ritual crows came to eat the Sraddha.

Somewhere in distant, the horns of vehicles were blowing, children were preparing for schools. In between them, there was stillness in Niravbhai’s home. Niravbhai was sitting on the chair in the courtyard, tears were peeping out of his eyes, but did not come out because of the fear of society.

Sharada, a wife of Niravbhai, came in front of him and said, “What are you thinking? Where have you been lost? Do you remember..” Even before she completed her sentence, he interrupted “Yes, I remember those consequences happened two years earlier… I remember that heinous act.” He started sobbing, could not utter a word after. He began crying, his eyes were expressing his words.

“Why are you crying? We could not do anything in what has happened.” And he started crying, holding Sharada’s hand.

“Please do not cry… Please do not burden yourself, it is not good for your health.” Sharada knew that he was suffering from a disease of the heart.

“Yes, you are right. Patient of heart, but the same illness took the life of my daughter.” As he completed his sentence, he stood up from the chair and started walking towards his room. He pulled Sharada’s hand along.

As he walked, he said, “Sharada, Do you know who is the murderer of our daughter… It is me, I killed her. Even though hands were not mine,  I made those circumstances.” He stopped as he completes.






They came inside his room, Sharada said, “What are you talking about? You inquired about everything, and then after the marriage took place. Were there mistakes? Why are you acting like it was your fault?” And she started crying.

Nirav unlocked the cupboard and started searching something between old books and papers.

Suddenly, he found a letter, and he started weeping again, like cloud bursted during monsoon days.

“What is it? And why are you crying again? Say something…” Sharada said hastily. Nirav handover the letter to Sharada.

As Sharada opened the letter and as she read the first word, she started crying embracing the letter. She could remember something, and she rooted to the spot. She sat on the bed, and started reading.

“Dear Pappa,’

I need to write this letter to you because I am unable to tell this in front of you. Pappa, I am still in the third year of my engineering…  You have decided my engagements eight months ago, and I do not mind… but…

Marriage…? Do not you think this is too early?  Pappa, What I did in past, is unforgivable, I am not even worthy for that. I brought disgrace to you and your reputation in the society, and for that, I am ready to accept any of punishment of yours. You may not know, but I did this engagement for that only.

But after this engagement, I started afraid of something. I know that Veer is 9 years older than me and I do not even have an issue with that but I am constantly feeling that he did this engagement for sexuality only.

I tried to stop him many times, but still, he tries to fondle me. This may be okay and acceptable after the marriage, but even before the marriage???

I have thought about suicide so many times, but then I started thinking about my mother who borne me for 9 months in her womb, my father who raised me to this. And I leave these thoughts asides.

I will do this marriage if you say, but if it is possible, please give me a single chance. Please… So that I can prove myself. Pappa, I will not do anything that brings shame. Pappa, Even though I will get married, but truly saying, I will never ever be happy ever after.

Pappa, I know you are suffering from a disease of the heart and if you will worry about anything, you have to face the difficult circumstances. This is why I am writing this letter to you. If you think I deserve the second chance, please break this engagement, but if not, please put this letter away, I will never ask anything about this.

Yours lovingly.






Sharada felt the presence of her daughter in her eyes. Nirav was staring at the wall absent-mindedly, as he heard Sharada’s woe, he said, “Our daughter got married happily for me. If I had given her a chance, she would have been here now, alive.”

There was silence all around after a long-heavy rain. Nirav said, sobbing, “She said that Veer wanted her body only… but even as being a father, I could not understand her. I sold off my daughter to that rapist. Though he and his friends are the rapists and murderers, it was me who took my daughter there.

Both Nirav and Sharada, started weeping. They cried their heart out. The sound of sobs filled the room. The dogs barked in distance. But the ship has sailed.

Every year, in India, many parents married off their daughters considering the well beings of the in-laws and the boys. In many places, these daughters have to bear those monstrous acts and other atrocities. I have given few links of such cases below, you can read them.

It is better to trust your children and give them another chance, otherwise, you will be responsible for whatever happens with them, and then there will be nothing, except regret.


Think about it.




Friday, November 30, 2018

Will you be my co-author?

I fell in love with her,
She has a charm,
The charm which can make everyone happy,
She teaches me to believe in myself,
But time to time she lost herself.
I tried to post her a latter,
The latter of my love,
But betrayed me.
Many times I tried to type my proposal in a text,
But then my heart erased it again and again.
Time goes,
She and I live in multiple affairs.
I don't know everything about her,
But I tried to engage myself with her.
Even today I tried to say,
But again my fear stops me to type 'I Love You'
Now I think that day will never come,
when I can say,
Will you be my co-author?

- Abhijeet Mehta



Saturday, November 17, 2018

Why Should I Need You?

I have a moon,
Who is always with me to hear my pain.

I have my words,
Through which I can express my pain.

I have my pen,
Which can convey my pain to the society.

I have a soul,
Who gives me the solution to my pain

Then, why should I need you?

- Abhijeet Mehta 



Saturday, November 10, 2018

Request for donation to Internet Freedom Foundation

Dear reader, a very happy Diwali!

The winter months for many are a time for celebration, festivities and reflection. It's time spent with family and friends shopping, gorging on homemade delicacies and sweets. Given how firmly tethered the internet is to our lives much of our community celebration occurs online. We wish each other, gift and exchange information and opinions for a variety of purposes. Yes, even, the timely reports on the awful smog which right now is enveloping large parts of northern India.

What makes this possible is the free and open internet. A digital medium which is accessible and safe, when we need it -- not shut down on a whim, or censored by old, antiquated colonial laws. An internet where we get a real choice to browse around, explore and talk --  not a walled garden or a highway with tolls. But also, a medium which is far from perfect and needs rules to protect us from mass surveillance. In other words, a mystical genie that grants us three wishes. Freedom of speech, net neutrality and privacy.

Over the past two months, IFF has worked hard to support work in all three domains. Some of it is publicly catalogued in our updates. But we are also building out a robust backend that provides impact and positive movement, systemically and strategically. This includes hiring staff and keeping interns. In this process what has indeed been rewarding have been the offers of help by many volunteers. While we are working with some, to honestly realise and engage we plan to deploy human and technical resources in the coming months.

In my last email to you, I indicated that IFF's mission is ambitious and our success relies on your good wishes and kindness. This includes your faith in extending us financial support. We are thankful this continues as our work gathers pace. We need much more of it, and in the spirit of Diwali look forward to greater generosity.

Please do consider a donation to IFF and help us light up digital rights in India.

Thank you,
Apar
Executive Director
Internet Freedom Foundation

Please note IFF a public charitable organization registered under Sections of 12A and an 80G of the Income Tax Act. Click here for more information on our financial disclosures.