The Writer and the Mob

“Perumal Murugan is dead,” wrote the Tamil writer and teacher Perumal Murugan after his books were burnt, his family displaced, his safety threatened, and his career made uncertain. The Madras High Court has brought Murugan to life again. His right to write was upheld. More importantly, his right to offend, without which the right to free speech means little, was upheld. And, crucially, the state was reminded that it is charged with the obligation to resist the illegal demands of censorious mobs, not to appease them.

An Unprincipled Future? The Imminent Conflict between FIPPs and the Internet of Things

Contemporary consumer privacy law in the United States is largely based on the Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs) which have instituted the popular “notice and choice” model of Internet consumer privacy protection. But, besides the overwhelming evidence of the failure of the notice and choice model, the FIPPs are conceptually challenged by the Internet of Things. If consumer privacy law is to survive in the twenty-first century, either the conflict between FIPPs and the Internet of Things must be resolved or an entirely new approach to consumer privacy must be devised.

The ‘Nutrition Label Approach’ to Privacy Policies

If privacy policies are meant to secure informed consent from consumers before their personal data is collected, several studies have shown that they have failed. Consumers do not know what privacy policies are, often because they either do not read them or they cannot understand them. How should consumer privacy regulators address this failure? Drawing on lessons from current failures, some researchers are advocating a “nutrition label” approach to privacy policies.

Copyright, Libraries, and the Textbook Arms Race

In the United States, the unreasonably high price of college textbooks does more than encourage a futile “arms race” with students; it reveals troublesome failures in the market and in the copyright system. Some have predicted that the Internet will burst the textbook bubble. But for this to be realized, copyright law must first resolve its tense relationship with digital content and libraries. Libraries have long enjoyed exceptions under copyright regimes across the world to enable access to knowledge for education. Would an international framework to facilitate library lending and digital supply of documents, free from the constraints of DRM, affect the US college textbook bubble? It remains to be seen.

The Supreme Court’s Loss of Reputation

The Supreme Court’s refusal to strike down the anachronistic colonial offence of criminal defamation is wrong. Criminalising defamation serves no legitimate public purpose; the vehicle of criminalisation – sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) – is unconstitutional; and the court’s reasoning is woolly at best.