According to Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal, no Indian government will ever crack down on social media, to try to calm fears of China-like censorship of sites like Google and Facebook. Still, a Delhi trial court recently forced 21 websites to block content that might offend certain religious groups. Google and Facebook were included in the list, in which the Indian government denies as being censorship, though Sibal states that “we do believe that all media must obey the laws of this country.”
This isn’t the first time Sibal has denied the Indian government’s role in internet censorship. A controversial law was enacted last year making user content the responsibility of the website’s company, and if there is a complaint about anything, 36 hours was given to remove it. The point Sibal is trying to make is that the mandate was enacted in a Dehli trial court. The threat, “like China, we will block all these websites” was made by Delhi trial court justice Suresh Kait, and Sibal states that the government had nothing to do with it. “It is between the complainant and those who have been called,” according to Sibal. Google Inc., Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook are all awaiting appeals from the Delhi High Court.
Though roughly one in ten of the Indian population has internet access, this still makes up the world’s third largest internet market, behind China and the U.S. And this number is expected to triple within the next three years.