Monday, December 10, 2007

India Issues Arrest Warrents for Dutch Web Activists

An Indian court in Bangalore has issued arrest warrants and will request extradition of eight Dutch nationals who are members of several labor activist groups including Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) and the director a Dutch ISP "". The charges relate to an ongoing activist campaign against Dutch jeans company"G-Star" and their India based manufacturing supplier Fibres and Fabrics International (FFI) and its subsidiary Jeans Knits Pvt. Ltd.

The activist groups are protesting working conditions at the Indian factory (for example, see "Make it clear that labour rights organisations will not be silenced - Support freedom of speech and freedom of association"). This and other web postings resulted in a defamation case brought against the activists by FFI in India.

Most recently, the Dutch jeans maker "G-Star" has announced it will terminate its contract with the Indian manufacturer (see
"G-star ends jeans contract with Indian firm").

This case is a classic example of three important issues with technology and political issues:

  1. Where does free speech end and crime begin? What are the limits involving web postings, online communications and attempts by various interest groups in using technology to organize?
  2. The lack of any consistent international definitions of computer crime or tort and delict civil laws. What is a crime in one country may be a privileged right in another; and
  3. The power of (negative) press is often the most important aspect. In fact, one of the most attractive attribute of the Internet for activist groups is its power as a PR mechanism.

Indian court orders 'arrest without bail' of Dutch activists

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