Google, Facebook Asked to Screen User Content in India

Government wants disparaging and inflammatory content prohibited.

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Google, Facebook Asked to Screen User Content in India
[ Business]

In a disturbing move, the government of India has apparently reached out to representatives of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Yahoo in hopes of preventing certain kinds of material from being posted by users. The New York Times is reporting that Kapil Sibal, acting minister of telecommunications, will meet with executives from the internet companies on Monday afternoon.

Today’s meeting will be third in a series of meetings that began six weeks ago, when Sibal gathered lawyers from the companies and from India’s main internet service providers. At this meeting he reportedly displayed a Facebook page critical of Sonia Gandhi, president of India’s Congress Party, as an example of the sort of content he wanted removed.

At the second meeting, which reportedly took place in November, Mr. Sibal insisted that the companies employ human screeners – rather than any sort of automated system – to identify, intercept, and remove content his office deems objectionable.

The executives are expected to tell Mr. Sibal at today’s meeting that the sheer volume of content produced in India makes the project impossible, especially in absence of a court order or law requiring them to do it. The request also raises legal questions. While free speech protections are not as robust in India as they are in the United States, there remain concerns that Mr. Sibal’s request violates those protections. One Twitter user points to a Supreme Court ruling that protects free speech on the internet:

http://t.co/GDbIax7r screams “unconstitutional”, as Sibal well knows. Pre-screening of content illegal, Supreme Court has held. 1 hour ago via Hotot · powered by @socialditto

Others used Twitter to express their anger at the project, as well as their skepticism that it was even possible:

Only our government could make religious fundamentalists and illiterate proto-fascists look good http://t.co/ntughTut 1 hour ago via TweetDeck · powered by @socialditto

Funniest part of ministerial instruction to screen Indian #facebook content, Sibal ‘expected them to use human beings’ http://t.co/wWAFGqsp 1 hour ago via TweetDeck · powered by @socialditto

India telecon minister asks Google/ Facebook to screen user content before posting. Um…of 125 million users? http://t.co/CQTOxcOW 1 hour ago via Tweet Button · powered by @socialditto

Google, Facebook Asked to Screen User Content in India
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  • http://www.PlacesToEatOkay.com Steven

    It’s one of those things that oppressive governments do. They want to remain in power and so one of the many tricks they do is to silence certain content. This is wrong as it creates underground networks so that this content will still be published to those who want to read it. India needs to take a page from China’s experience with blocking Google that the public still found a way around the great firewall of China to get to the content that the Chinese government didn’t want their citizens to read.

    However I do believe in the right of every country to create it’s own laws. So if there was something deemed not legal anymore, then there should be a law written and Google will comply or be shut out of India. Google should not comply with the demands of the Indian Government without such a law in place.

    Perhaps while these talks are going on Google can ask for banking regulation in India to be lifted in some fashion so that Indian Adsense publishers can get wire transfers instead of waiting weeks for the mail to show up and then weeks after that for the checks to clear from the bank.

  • Ram Kumar

    The most disturbing fact is Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo? are managed by a micro-minority community well known for their greed and anti-social manipulations to grab power and once majority people understand it, this community regularly gets backlash. Their recent social innovations to grab power include “communism”, which killed millions of people all over the world.

    In this circumstance Google, Facebook, Microsoft etc should be closely monitored and tightly controlled. Do we want greedy people to instigate one more communism like experiment?

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