How Free is ‘Free’ Speech?

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Parliament - CriminalIndia’s already low tolerance for free speech and expression seems to be hitting new lows. Artists are being threatened for not blindly supporting the BJP, citizens are being murdered for posting cartoonswriters are being thrown into jail for publishing negative views on our current Prime Minister and books are being withdrawn for not ascribing to a right wing interpretation of Hinduism. Let’s be clear, India has never been a bastion for free speech. We have exiled artists and authors and thrown people in jail for criticism. Courts have proven fickle defenders of this freedom, particularly unhappy with criticism of themselves. However, this new brand of vigilantism is more violent and more brazen, with little in terms of government action to keep them in check.

Today’s post looks at data from Google’s transparency report and data from Facebook. India performs notoriously when compared to other countries and is definitely on an upward trend. By and large, there seem to be more executive requests each quarter. The following graphs look at executive and court requests to take down information from July, 2010 – June, 2013 (all under the previous government). I also look at reasons for these requests and compare India to other countries. All data is from the Google Transparency Report and Facebook’s Government Request Reports.


I am also hoping to keep this an ongoing project with a live, updated infographic. If you have any ideas/suggestions on this, please feel free to shoot me an email.


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