[ooni-talk] Report by OTF Fellow -- Study of Censorship & Media Freedom in Manipur, India

Maria Xynou maria at openobservatory.org
Thu Jun 18 13:16:37 UTC 2020


Over the last year, OONI has had the opportunity to serve as the host
organization of OTF Information Controls Fellow, Chinmayi S K

Today, we are excited to share the publication of Chinmayi's research
report, titled "Those Unspoken Thoughts: A study of censorship and media
freedom in Manipur, India".

Summary of report:

Full length report:

As part of her fellowship, Chinmayi researched internet censorship in
Manipur, India, and its effect on the womxn in the region.

To this end, she adopted both quantitative and qualitative research
methods. To investigate internet censorship, Chinmayi ran OONI Probe in
various regions of India and analyzed relevant OONI measurements. To
explore the impact of internet censorship on womxn in the region and to
investigate restrictions to media freedom, she circulated a survey and
carried out interviews.

Key findings from her research include:

* Censorship variance on a network-level. Internet censorship (i.e.,
blocking of websites) in India mainly varies from ISP to ISP, rather
than from region to region.

* Block pages were detected for 167 URLs in India across 5 ISPs
(including 2 networks in Manipur), 84 URLs of which remain operational
and are discussed as part of this study.
* Most blocked URLs include blogs, file-sharing sites, and media websites.

* Many of the blocked blogs and media articles were included in a 2013
blocklist issued by the government of India, in response to the IIPM

* Block pages were mainly served for specific articles, rather than
blocking access to entire websites.

* Many of these blocked articles covered the 2012 murder of Rohingya
Muslims in Myanmar and violence against Muslims in Assam.

* Many of these sites now support HTTPS, which means that the blocking
of articles on HTTP webpages can easily be circumvented.

* Websites related to Manipur -- including local media websites, human
rights websites, and women’s rights websites -- were found accessible
throughout the testing period of this study.

* Manipur has faced around five shutdowns from 2012 to the time of
writing this report. Internet shutdowns create inconvenience for the
womxn of Manipur. Womxn reported loss of professional standing and
opportunities as a result of them. They also reported facing anxiety and
restlessness thus affecting their mental health because of these
shutdowns. The concerns about the need of shutdowns were raised.It
remains unclear whether and how internet shutdowns have helped resolve
conflict in the state.

* The delicate socio-political situation in Manipur means there are
multiple threat vectors for expression. The number and complexity of the
threats has created a chilling effect on freedom of expression. Womxn
practice self censorship to avoid conflict.    .

* Certain internet activities have led to offline consequences for some
womxn in Manipur, often in the nature of threat to life and security.

* Press freedom continues to be under threat with legal actions such as
defamation cases, pressure from the political class adding to the
existing restriction that they face in terms of pressures from UGs
(Underground Groups) and the government.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this study, please reach
out to Chinmayi directly: chinmayi at thebachchaoproject.org

Please help share the report:



Maria Xynou
Research & Partnerships Director
Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI)
PGP Key Fingerprint: 2DC8 AFB6 CA11 B552 1081 FBDE 2131 B3BE 70CA 417E

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