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There has been lots of debates on Internet and accessibility. Hundreds of movements initiated actions to promote free knowledge and free access to information. These days governments and multi national corporations are trying sensor and ban information from public access. It is clear that information is powerful and certain institutions want to suppress access to them. The paradox is that these institutions and governments proclaim that they are messiahs who tries to bridge the digital divide.



Aaron Swartz's life and the message



I was watching this movie in youtube on Aaron Swartz. In the film, it was clearly mentioned that after the protest on The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) his list of accused crimes has increased from 4 to 13. Aaron told to friends that the government wanted to create an example out of him. It is painful to see this prodigy had to commit suicide.

I want to quote his words here, "Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves". Aaron protested against the private corporations who lock up the  world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, He created a parallel called open access and wrote Guerilla Open Access Manifesto to establish free access to publications.


Right to information act and consequences


RTI act in India changed the course of public access to information and the system. Many scams were brought to light using RTIs. Those who want to keep power by themselves came under scrutiny after significant information was gained through filing RTI's. The National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI) and Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan were two famous organizations that promotes RTI and used it to gain access to government records. I am a member of NCPRI and has arranged workshops on RTI for college students. Use of RTI varies from gaining information on concession for students in private buses to corruption in Public Works Department (PWD).


Now How do We Make it Free and Accessible?

Imagine all the RTIs filed, all the circulars issued by the government, court records are under one website and people can share it. These records are digital and in public access. Anyone can view them, copy information and use it for better use.

Imagine these can be accessed by typing keywords and anyone can download them.

Imagine they are translated to regional languages and ordinary citizens can access them

Imagine an online free help desk where people can ask for information if they cant find it.

These are just preliminary concepts to start with. But with proper planning and structure, it can change beliefs and offer a parallel to the current system.

Taking Aaron words again, "Think deeply about things. Don’t just go along because that’s the way things are or that’s what your friends say. Consider the effects, consider the alternatives, but most importantly, just think.". Yes we need to think.




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