By Nitin Pai and Pranay Kotasthane
The debate of liberty versus security gains special significance in India with the emergence of Radically Networked Societies (RNSs). A Radically Networked Society is defined as a web of hyper connected individuals, possessing an identity (imagined or real), and motivated by a common immediate cause. The defining feature of an RNS is its scale of operation — wide reach and its ability to evade conventional national security measures.
In the past few years, RNSs have mobilised large groups using the power of the Internet. Some examples include: the flight of Northeast Indians from Bengaluru following circulation of videos over phones that allegedly showed Muslim people being killed in Northeast India, and the lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri following the circulation of three photos of meat and bones of a slaughtered animal via WhatsApp.
Several questions arise as a result. First, how should the hierarchical Indian state respond to the challenges of a networked society? Second, how can the Indian state respond to this challenge in a way that upholds national security while also protecting individual freedoms? Third, what will be the exact nature of the trade-off between liberty and security in an age of radically networked societies? This paper will attempt to answer these important questions of liberty and security in the Indian context.