Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act(IRWA)

The Union Cabinet approved the introduction of Amendments to the "Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986".

Major amendments proposed are as follows:

· Broaden the scope of the law to cover the audio-visual media and material in electronic form.

· Penalties to be enhanced to a maximum of 3 years of imprisonment and fine of b/w Rs.50,000 to Rs.1,00,000 for first conviction, and imprisonment of not less than 2 years, but which may extend to 7 years, and a fine b/w Rs.1,00,000 to Rs.5,00,000 for second conviction.

· Police officers not below the rank of Inspectors authorized to carry out search and seizure, in addition to State and Central Government officers authorized by the State or Central Government.

What is "Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986" and what is the importance of current measures?

The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (IRWA), 1986 was introduced with the specific objective of prohibiting the indecent representation of women through advertisement, publication, writing, and painting or in any other means. The existing Act, in its present form, covers the print media. However, with the advent of newer e-technologies like multimedia, internet etc it was felt that the scope of the Act may need to be amended.

The latest step bolsters the law " IRWA 1986" by enhancing its efficacy by taking into its ambit newer forms of communication like internet, multimedia messaging etc., beyond the print and audio-visual media. This measure is would help in tackling the problem of increased objectification of women thereby ensuring dignity of women.

India opposes balkanization of Internet

In recent development, India has distanced itself from any model that promulgates governments control over internet.

What is the background of the issue?

The issue is regarding the control of the internet related tasks and its governance. Initially, till 1998, other organization on behalf of U.S. government used to oversee internet related tasks. Later, a non-profit private organization was established by the U.S. to govern the task. The organization is called Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Nations such as Russia, China, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan want governance models that seek to place the Internet under U.N. control while the U.S. and western states are hesitant to move away from the status quo position of ICANN-led Internet governance.

What is India’s current stance on the matter?

While India is not opposing ICANN control over internet, it has sought consensus from multi-stakeholders to develop an appropriate model for the effective management of the Internet. India opposes any model that propagates governments or inter-governmental control of internet, which as per India could lead to balkanization of internet.

What are the functions of ICANN?

ICANN is responsible for:

· Coordination of the global Internet’s systems of unique identifiers

· Ensuring stable and secure operation of internet.

· Coordination of the Internet Protocol address spaces

· Assignment of address blocks to regional Internet registries, for maintaining registries of Internet protocol identifiers, and for the management of the top-level domain name space (DNS root zone), which includes the operation of root name servers.

· DNS policy development for internationalization of the DNS system

· Introduction of new generic top-level domains (TLDs)