Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) is a self-proclaimed Indian ‘digital liberties’ organization whose goal is to ensure that Indian citizens can use the Internet with liberties guaranteed in the Constitution like Free Speech, Privacy etc. After the Indian government passed new regulations for social media, the IFF has been in the news for its criticism of the said regulations.
Apar Gupta, the executive director at advocacy Internet Freedom Foundation, told Reuters that the new rules posed a threat to freedom of speech. “To fix the problems in these sectors the government has adopted an approach which carries the risks of political control and censorship,” he told the media outlet.
Therefore, it becomes necessary to question and review the credentials of the organization. Who does the IFF represent? The people, the government, Twitter or someone else?
To realize who the IFF represents, or any other organization for that matter, it is imperative to check who donates to them. IFF prides itself on its transparency of donations. Therefore, it is easy to find out that the Indian social media app Sharechat is an ‘organizational donor’ of IFF.
According to IFF itself, ‘organizational donors’ allows IFF to make their work ‘sustainable’. From the information that IFF provides, it is clear that Sharechat is the second largest organizational donor of IFF. As it turns out, Twitter has invested in Sharechat. However, Sharechat itself has broadly supported the new rules.
More damningly, however, Raman Jit Singh Chima is the chairperson at the IFF and to add to that, he is the Policy Director at Access Now. Access Now, another advocacy group funded by Twitter, Facebook, Google and western governments has come out in criticism of the new social media regulations that seek to make them accountable. A majority of Access Now’s funds come from western governments.
On 18th December 2020, the Supreme Court issued a notice to IFF trustee Rachita Taneja for a Contempt of Court plea against her. Rachita Taneja stands accused of being in contempt of the Supreme Court over her cartoons which depicted the Supreme Court in a derogatory light. The Supreme Court issued a notice to comedian Kunal Kamra for Contempt of Court on the same day. Both of their matters are currently sub judice i.e. under judicial consideration.
Rachita Taneja is a former Social Media Officer for Greenpeace India, an organization whose financial dealings has been severely restricted by the Government of India because of its activism against Indian interests. Under such circumstances, it is abundantly clear that the IFF is not the neutral observer that it is pretending to be.