Evidence Act Section114a FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
3. How will this affect you?
If 114a is not stopped, you will be held responsible for the words of others. It can also result in the removal of comment functions, curtailing your space for posting legitimate comments and opinions. This impacts your democratic right to participate freely and openly in public debate and discussions. Indirectly, it will foster a climate of self-censorship, and will have a huge impact on the interactive nature of online media.
4. Why do we want to stop 114a?
Our opinions – as netizens and as citizens – matter. If the new Evidence Act were gazetted, 114a would seriously hinder the democratic right to freedom of expression on the Net.
Let’s keep online spaces free and open to critical comments and debates.
5. How can you take action?
Let’s come together and support open and democratic spaces online.
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