A day after getting 73 Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) pertaining to content against business school Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) blocked, the IIPM
Think Tank's Honorary Director Arindam Chaudhuri
said that he would personally scrutinise the contents of the URLs and not contest those which are harmless satire-based contents of a non-defamatory kind. "Rest we will contest and prove that they are defamatory," he said, in an emailed response to Business Standard.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Thursday evening had sent a notice to All Internet
Service Licensees that it has been decided to immediately block 73 URLs containing anti-IIPM content. This included the University Grants Commission
page with guidelines on IIPM, consumer forum websites, several newspaper websites (pages containing the specified articles), satire websites and online news portals. The Internet Service Licensees have been directed to immediately block access to the URLs (and not websites).
In response to this, Chaudhuri said that legally speaking, last year, one of their channel partners had filed a suit against Google
and submitted to various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) information on certain articles (that he considered defamatory and were affecting his business) about IIPM on the Internet.
"After hearing the suit, the Hon’ble Court had asked Google to remove those links as they were found to be defamatory in nature. However, Google failed to comply with the order and subsequently, the Hon’ble Court asked Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (ICERT) to block those defamatory URLs till further orders. It also issued a notice to IIPM to be one of the respondents. We shall file our reply in the Hon’ble Court soon," he said.
Chaudhuri also said that philosophically speaking, as far as Google and the concept of freedom of speech is concerned, he was all for it; but freedom of speech does not mean freedom to spread lies and freedom to defame. "Anything that is a lie or is defamatory must be challenged in the courts and if the courts find merit, the lie and defamatory content must be removed – be it a single URL or multiple URLs. Worldwide, this is what is the common practice against anything that is defamatory," he added.
UGC had recently issued a statement saying that IIPM is not a university and does not have the right to confer or grant degrees. To this, Chaudhuri said he suspected that UGC had been deliberately spreading misleading information about IIPM to hurt its business interests and had even gone to the extent of falsely calling IIPM a fake university. "For the same, we did take them to court and the Delhi High Court had reprimanded UGC and given it a clear direction to remove the allegation because IIPM, like ISB, neither gives any degree of its own, has never claimed to do the same, nor has it ever called itself a university. UGC's false campaign is utterly defamatory against which IIPM has also released public notices in newspapers," he added
When asked about getting an accreditation in the future, he said that they are a very big institution and if the government has any good suggestion it is most welcome to come and talk to them. "If it gives us a guarantee that our autonomy will remain intact, we might consider something like that in future. But not like petty blackmailers sending illegal notices.We are not interested in talking to such bodies. So as of now as long as the law of the land guarantees us right to teach we are extremely happy at the teaching we are imparting. It is of world beating standards and I wish some of the UGC/AICTE institution faculty members had the capability to be a fraction as good as our faculty members," he explained.
Social media social media was abuzz with posts and opinions about the institute. 'IIPM' was the trending topic on Twitter, with millions of individuals from across the country narrating their good and bad experiences with the educational institution. Facebook also saw individuals sharing past news articles about IIPM. Apart from serious discussions about the issue, where some Twitterati lashed out at the institute and government for infringing on the Freedom of Speech and Expression of individuals, light humour and satirical posts about the institute were found in abundance on Twitter.
Meanwhile, cyber security experts said that blocking may not be a solution. Mumbai-based cyber security expert Vijay Mukhi
said that since the concerned content about IIPM had been 'shared' and 'retweeted' by so many individuals, there was no point blocking it. "This is no way to get anything done. Such articles may be always be available on the internet in one site or the other. The point here is, one damage is done, through some content on the internet, it is done. It can not be reversed again," he said.
He explained that for URLs to be blocked, the aggrieved party (in this case, IIPM), was required to submit the list of websites to the concerned authorities. "However, the danger here is, that sites sharing same IP addresses may also get accidentally blocked. So, it is advisable to block individual pages," he said.
Mukhi also raised a concern on the decision to block URLs. He explained that even the US government had not taken such steps and unless a URL's content is against national interest, it wasn't advisable to block it. Industry experts said that this was the first time that an educational institute in India had requested the court to block certain URLs.