Blogger and friend Vidyut Kale gets a take-down notice for exposing corruption

Update: Legal voices on Twitter have pointed out that the legal notice that Vidyut received is stupid, as Vidyut is the author, not an intermediary, and the IT bill applies only to intermediaries. This means, that she does not have to take down her content, but the lawyers can make her ISP block her website if she does not, yes, without a court hearing. In short, the IT bill is evil, but has not legally been used against her yet. It has been used, but it was a stupid, uninformed illegal use.

A blogger and dear friend Vidyut Kale had written a post about the raid on the Belvedere yacht party, where she also exposed a history of financial misdoings by Lt Col (retd) Gautam Dutta. She has received a take down notice for her article being defamatory. The IT Rules are so arbitrary that she has no chance to defend herself against the takedown, because no explanation or even verification of the premise of the take down notice being correct is required. Anyone getting the takedown notice is legally required to take their content down within 36 hours or they lose protections as intermediaries.

While she is also the author, her position as the owner of the blog makes her vulnerable to these threats if her blog is to survive. She has no experience of fighting court cases, and can’t afford a lawyer, while the persons sending her the notice have a large law firm at their command. It is not defamation if her content is provable through RTI documents, but to prove it, she will have to violate the IT Rules, lose protection and fight several years in court – to save a post that exposes corruption in sailing on technicalities lawyers can exploit for people with the money to throw, while bloggers can be victimized out of any serious truth seeking by the simple virtue of not having enough money.

She is the same blogger that blogged to draw attention to the Keenan and Reuben murders when mainstream media had reported the story and let it go. Her efforts led to large-scale media attention that helped the poor families get attention to their case and prevent the killers from going scot-free. This can be verified by searching for Keenan and Reuben, and her blog – aamjanata.com is one of the top results. Two posts she did compiling news coverage was extensively refered to by others covering the case. She raised questions that were important to not be ignored.

She has also reported on and followed the case of Naina Singh’s dowry death, where the police were refusing to file an FIR. She created a group of people to support Naina’s mother as well as found local lawyers (Delhi) who would help her approach courts to get directions for filing an FIR. The FIR was filed five months after Naina Singh’s death.

She has blogged extensively on issues of national interest, freedom of speech and human rights.

In reporting stories from the RTI documents related to sailing scams she was again covering an area that is not big enough for mainstream media, but an important leak of money as well as integrity for the country. Not to mention the illegal practices around sailing making it a security risk through norms of “looking the other way”.

VIdyut, who is a housewife and has little income is at serious risk of being attacked by a team of seasoned lawyers with money to burn. for daring expose corrupt practices. This is a very concerning sign for freedom of speech and whistle blowing in our country. Any media attention highlighting her situation and precarious situation of smaller content producers in India like bloggers, independent artists, cartoonists, etc and the role played by the IT Rules will go a long way in protecting their rights and drawing attention to their victimization.

MP P Rajeeve is moving a motion in the Rajya Sabha for the IT Rules to be annulled for being unconstitutional, but without appropriate attention, it may not happen or may be too late for many like her.

I have known Vidyut now for some two years, initially drawn to the fire in her writings and tweets, and then getting to know her as a dear and dependable friend. It saddens me that the IT bill is striking so close to home, and I hope sincerely for Vidyut’s sake and for the sake of the freedom of expression in general that the IT bill gets annulled and this case gets the treatment it deserves.

Imagine if you had to tear down your house just because your neighbour alleged that it was irritating him. Yes, it is that bad, no court needs to convict Vidyut for her to take down the content, and if the lawyer is not satisfied by that, her blog. All it takes is to register a case and send a notice to her ISP.

Thanks to helpful lawyers we know now that the IT bill’s invocation against Vidyut was an error or a threat tactic by Mr. Gupta’s Lawyers, but the sword of the IT bill still hangs on her head, if she does not comply with the notice, they can easily get the ISP to block her site, no case nothing needed. I hope, of course that this does not happen, and at lease one of the swords hanging over her head is removed by the end of the day today.

Spread this message –  email it to your friends, post it on Facebook,  the IT bill needs to go, and if it doesnt, our freedom will.

Anand Philip

23 thoughts on “Blogger and friend Vidyut Kale gets a take-down notice for exposing corruption

  1. They’re justifying by saying that they’re “reinforcing” and making sure that no1 is hurt and thereby making sure that the company follows their own policies about intolerating social evils- but what they’re really doing is that they’re using this to manipulate in a way having a shotgun on people’s heads. Thanks for sharing.
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  2. I just shared it on my FB and Twitter. Is there some archival trace of Kale’s blog somewhere? This is extremely dangerous development and needs to be countered by legal honchos. Retrograde laws have to be opposed tooth and nail. Collaborating with Main stream media the political powers are trying to muzzle the voices – Are we going to medieval times?

    1. Suresh, there are archival traces in abundance but am holding off on them till Vidyut is in the legal clear. Over the last 3 months or so, quiet a few people, lead by the free software foundation, Internet democracy project and the Center for internet and society have worked towards trying to get the IT bill annulled, sadly this did not happen, but we do have a promise from the authorities that the bill will be revised based on meetings with stakeholders.

    1. Hi Ramdas, if you see the update I have posted, it clarifies this. Vidyut received a legal notice which told her that the IT bill could be used to consider her an intermediary, the legal details are difficult for a layman like me to understand, but there are lawyers at work on this.

      thank you

  3. What would be the consequences if a move is driven to post the content on every blog around. Maybe overseas. A wide spread protest as in. I’m not an expert, but such legal idiosyncrasies bug to great extents. Now that the people involved want to get rid of the content, we should join hands to keep it alive.

  4. Sometimes I doubt that if we really live in democracy, that’s too world’s largest (so called). As blogger, its our responsibility to raise our voice against it. Just an appeal,
    write so many posts like this and about this that they get confused, whom to send notice and what to delete or block.

    1. That is one way of doing it sure. The other way, is to use the democratic process to bring about change like has been attempted, the fight is far far from over.

  5. What’s really scary is that anyone is a potential victim, not just bloggers- even if anyone comments in the comment section or worse- even in discussion boards/ forums. Its even stupid that some of these people deem the internet as “media”. Its not, its anything but a media. Maybe media guys have online news sites -but that’s it! They’re justifying by saying that they’re “reinforcing” and making sure that no1 is hurt and thereby making sure that the company follows their own policies about intolerating social evils- but what they’re really doing is that they’re using this to manipulate in a way having a shotgun on people’s heads.

    If anyone says a product is bad….like say McDonalds- that means McDonalds can kick my ass- because they are finding it “offensive”. Aseem Trivedi’s site was hosted on BigRock. BigRock taken it down without sending any notice. They are probably forced to do it immidiately because some idiot must have threatened them. Would you go to the police to complain that you cable walla is putting up sony channel or whatever channel because they’re putting up offending content? And even if it did, there is a process they should follow. The court of law isn’t kept for show.
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  6. I am sharing on my blog.
    Am also writing a weekly general information round-up on social media movements on my non commercial blog- media laundry @Dhobitalao (www.indologygoa.wordpress.com) which will include some success social media stories(in short), innovative campaigns, new verticals, popular social media new arrivals, focus on an struggling/upcoming/ outstanding new media entrepreneur, some important new media events etc. If you have any feedback, please inbox me on laundryediter@gmail.com. Thanks in advance.
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    1. That is on purpose, as linking to such an article can get me in trouble. also, the article has been taken down.
      thanks for reading.

      Anand

  7. Horrible, just horrible.

    Has Vidyut reached out to some of the media folks? While there isn’t much recourse to the take-down notice, we certainly need to highlight this in the public.

    (Of course, it goes without saying that we shouldn’t be the law. We can only spread the message).
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    1. Kartikay
      Viduyt has reached out to the media, but I dont think it will create too much uproar, the media has more or less been for the IT bill, because being big organizations and because journalism is protected speech, they are mostly beyond the scope of it.

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