India Asks Google, Facebook to Screen User Content

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Vyom, Dec 5, 2011.

  1. Vyom

    Vyom Seeker Elite Member

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    The Indian government has asked Internet companies and social media sites like Facebook to prescreen user content from India and to remove disparaging, inflammatory or defamatory content before it goes online, three executives in the information technology industry say.

    Top officials from the Indian units of Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook are meeting with Kapil Sibal, India’s acting telecommunications minister, on Monday afternoon to discuss the issue, say two executives of Internet companies. The executives asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak to the media on the issue.

    Mr. Sibal’s office confirmed that he would meet with Internet service providers Monday but did not provide more information about the content of the meeting.

    About six weeks ago, Mr. Sibal called legal representatives from the top Internet service providers and Facebook into his New Delhi office, said one of the executives who was briefed on the meeting.

    At the meeting, Mr. Sibal showed attendees a Facebook page that maligned the Congress Party’s president, Sonia Gandhi. “This is unacceptable,” he told attendees, the executive said, and he asked them to find a way to monitor what is posted on their sites.

    In the second meeting with the same executives in late November, Mr. Sibal told them that he expected them to use human beings to screen content, not technology, the executive said.

    The three executives said Mr. Sibal has told these companies that he expects them to set up a proactive prescreening system, with staffers looking for objectionable content and deleting it before it is posted.

    The executives said representatives from these companies will tell Mr. Sibal at the meeting on Monday that his demand is impossible, given the volume of user-generated content coming from India, and that they cannot be responsible for determining what is and isn’t defamatory or disparaging.

    “If there’s a law and there’s a court order, we can follow up on it,” said an executive from one of the companies attending the meeting. But these companies can’t be in the business of deciding what is and isn’t legal to post, he said.

    Yahoo, Facebook and Microsoft did not respond immediately to calls for comment, and a Google spokeswoman said the company had no comment on the issue. Facebook said earlier this year it has more than 25 million users in India. Google has over 100 million Internet users in India.

    The demand is the Indian government’s latest attempt to monitor and control electronic information. In April, the ministry issued rules demanding Internet service providers delete information posted on Web sites that officials or private citizens deemed disparaging or harassing. Last year, the government battled with Blackberry’s manufacturer, Research In Motion, threatening to shut the company’s service off in India if it did not allow government officials greater access to users’ messages.

    The Indian government also plans to set up its own unit to monitor information posted on Web sites and social media sites, executives said, which will report to Gulshan Rai, the director general of India’s cyber-security monitor.

    A man who answered the phone in Mr. Rai’s office said he did not talk to the press and hung up when a reporter asked for a press contact.

    Some Indian cities like Mumbai have already set up special units to monitor Internet sites like Facebook and Orkut, the social networking site operated by Google, for content considered disparaging or obscene. India has made nearly 70 requests to Google to remove content between January and June of this year, one of the highest request rates of any country though less than the United States’s 92 and Brazil’s 224, according to Google’s transparency report.

    India Asks Google, Facebook to Screen User Content - NYTimes.com
     
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  3. Vyom

    Vyom Seeker Elite Member

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    Kapil Sibal will perhaps come up with a very noble idea to end unemployment in India. For every Indian there should be a constable - "Jo bhi Madam G ke baare mein bura bole use ek danda lagana!"
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2011
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  4. niharjhatn

    niharjhatn Regular Member

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    When I first read this, I thought it was anti-religion/terrorist-related content that was being asked to be removed.

    WTF do the comments make the queen cry? Well we can't have our queen who rules us by divine right upset... wait a second, Sonia Gandhi isn't a queen...
     
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  5. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

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    good for the nytimes to publicise this.They are trying to curb the freedom of speech
     
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  6. Bangalorean

    Bangalorean Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    This needs to be protested vigorously. No way we can allow this to pass.

    Let them try to dare move ahead. We will create a nasty noise. Social media, media, discussions - give it back to them.
     
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  7. Dovah

    Dovah Untermensch Senior Member

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    So they're gonna just remove the content or are the karyakartas going to lynch the haters in their own houses too?
     
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  8. Vyom

    Vyom Seeker Elite Member

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    So Sibal is already justifying it in the press conference and shamelessly mentions that he did not wanted this issue in the press, which means that he wanted to do this as quietly as possible.
     
  9. tarunraju

    tarunraju Moderator Moderator

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    Waits for niceguy's justified LOLpost.
     
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  10. ash2win

    ash2win Regular Member

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    Indian Minister Kapil Sibal Wants To Censor User Content In India

    WTF: The IT minister - Kapil Sibal - wants the government to pre-screen everything people say on social networking sites like Facebook, Google and Twitter before it goes online!

    [​IMG]

    Sibal gets what he set out to censor - Hindustan Times
     
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  11. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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  12. rock127

    rock127 Maulana Rockullah Senior Member

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    So Sibbal want to be like communist China and ban anything which is against the ruling corrupt and spineless govt?

    He is just giving another reason for the "Janta" to chose new govt. He don't know he has challanged the Facebook and Google Janta.

    This shameless creature has already been a cheater in the Anna's episode and now again. Sibbal is just another Rakhi Sawant asking for attention.
     
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  13. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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  14. maomao

    maomao Veteran Hunter of Maleecha Senior Member

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    Con-gress fears the internet - the most, last few episodes have proved that people are learning the realities about Congress (and its best kept secrets), coterie, and PR firms such as NDTV, IBN etc from the internet; every secret exposing corrupt yet intellectually unsound Gandhi-Nehru family is out there on the internet. Anna and 2G episode were two such examples where Congress and their stooges realized the power of internet and got to know that perhaps majority of people who read and like to do research are against congress and its loot irrespective of the the fact what corrupt media-houses or mediamen such as Burkha Dutt, Rajdeep, Vir Sanghvi type sold out journalists have to say about Gandhi-Nehrus and Con-gress.
     
  15. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    So all the pain of Kibal Sibal was because some one made a comment/picture against Madam G which might have hurt her or her amul baby. These sycophants will go to any extent to protect their queen's image.

    After buying all the print and television media and passing directives to not post anything against Madam G, to their astonishment the Congress sycophants found that the virulent anti-political social media is not for buying and therefore Mr. Kapil Sibal ordered the social websites to pre-screen the content before getting posted on the site. They key word they will be looking for prescreening might be 'Sonia G'.
     
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  16. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    Earth to Kapil Sibal: Sonia Gandhi is not God


    “I urge you to write KAPIL SIBAL IS AN IDIOT as your Facebook status message, use the hashtag #IdiotKapilSibal on Twitter,” asks a new campaign launched by the left-leaning site Kafila.org. The communication minister’s reported effort to crack down on offensive internet content evoked widespread abuse online, ranging from angry Facebook updates to Twitter-fueled invective.

    While much of this is amusing – and heartening – it begs the bigger question: why is there such poor protection for political speech in our country? The answer lies elsewhere, not in the personalities of those involved in this latest imbroglio. Kapil Sibal may be an idiot — or not — but more importantly, he represents the feudal mentality of the broader political class, which is in turn enabled by the multinational companies — all in the guise of protecting our cultural sensibilities.

    Sibal’s latest offensive — to force Facebook, Google et al to prescreen content — is merely an escalation of an already aggressive policy against the “defamation” of political leaders. In 2008, two young men were arrested for posting derogatory content on Orkut about Sonia Gandhi. (Google obediently turned their ISP address over, and the local authorities did the rest) Shiv Sena supporters in the past have trashed cyber cafes in protest of Orkut pages denigrating Bal Thackeray and Shivaji. Again, the anti-Shiv Sena groups were shut down. More recently, Digvijaya Singh filed an FIR against certain sites for taking “highly offensive” potshots at him.

    Sibal's latest offensive — to force Facebook, Google et al to prescreen content — is merely an escalation of an already aggressive policy against the "defamation" of political leaders. AFP

    And these are just the most public instances of the ongoing under-the-radar censorship of online speech. The companies’ unofficial response to the latest demand for prescreening, in fact, encourages such post-publication bullying: “We have told the government that we will cooperate with the government in penalising those found guilty of uploading objectionable content … we have urged them to prosecute such elements under relevant Acts by filing cases against them.”

    India may only be number five in requests for removal of content — 68 between January and June this year — but it also has a far looser definition of ‘offensive.’ As a Firstpost article notes, anything that can be censored if it is deemed a threat to national “unity” or “integrity,” “public order,” “grossly offensive or menacing in nature,” “disparaging,” or “otherwise unlawful in any manner whatever.”

    The excuse for this free-floating authoritarianism is always the same: We Indians are just sooo sensitive.

    The “communal sentiment” bogeyman is repeatedly evoked by various government officials, including the likes of Gulshan Rai who told the Wall Street Journal: “If you are doing business here, you should follow the local law, the sentiments of the people, the culture of the country, … If somebody starts abusing Lord Rama on a Web site, that could start riots.”

    The same figleaf was also offered up by an unnamed “top official” this time around: “What do you think about these derogatory pictures of the Prophet Mohammed, the (Indian) prime minister and the Congress president? Anybody will feel outraged. The government of India does not believe in censorship. But sensitivity and feelings of different communities cannot be allowed to be hurt.”

    What is striking about the statement is the way it easily clubs together a holy icon with two entirely mortal politicians. Our leaders are indeed sacred cows, at least in their minds. The Prophet, Lord Rama, Shivaji, Bal Thackeray, Sonia Gandhi…a pantheon of gods installed on a lofty pedestal beyond reproach. To speak against any is to invite the equivalent of an online fatwa.

    Two decades of liberalisation may have delivered the trappings of modernity — malls, wifi, IT companies and SEZs — but has left untouched the socialist/feudal mindset where speaking against the powerful is viewed as blasphemy. In the minds of our leaders and their supporters, the average citizen remains a lowly nobody who needs to always remember his “place.” Hence, when Harvinder Singh slapped Sharad Pawar in a publicity-seeking stunt, they were shocked not just by the act but also the widespread celebration it evoked.

    When Sibal points Facebook officials to the computer screen, declaring, “This is unacceptable,” he is referring not just to the anti-Sonia page but the sheer presumption it symbolises. And yes, this isn’t just about censorship but feudal entitlement, the entrenched privilege of the political class to remain unsullied by the grubby words of the teeming masses.

    The problem for our politicians is that the market didn’t just change our lifestyles but also our mindset. The new Indian middle class is no longer willing to content to quietly air its discontent in the discreet privacy of the home. This new confidence accentuated by the anonymity of the internet has uncorked decades of seething rage which now finds vituperative expression online.

    Now is much of this content tasteless? Yes. Even outright offensive in a number of cases, perhaps. But that is the price of being a public figure in a modern democracy. Just google the terms Obama and n****r.

    Free speech isn’t pretty. If it were, it wouldn’t be truly free.

    Responding to an attempt to ban demeaning comments on death memorial sites — which is surely the very definition of obscene — free speech advocate Ken Paulson writes, “The truth is that the free flow of online opinions — even the deeply offensive and emotionally jarring — is a vibrant sign of a democracy at work.” More so when the comments are aimed not at some poor dead soul but at alive-and-well politicians.

    There is no doubt that the “community standards” for offensive speech in India are likely to be stricter than those of the United States. But cultural difference has become a pretext for American companies to accede to political demands for censorship. The Wall Street Journal reported last year:

    Google has learned to be wary of material that could ignite unrest, from incendiary comments about politicians such as Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi to user groups bashing revered historical or religious figures.

    “In those gray areas it is really hard,” says Nicole Wong, Google’s deputy general counsel, who oversees the legal aspects of new Google product launches. “On the one hand, we believe very strongly in political speech and, on the other hand, in India they do riot and they blow up buses.”

    But who are ‘they’? These people who trash cafes to protest anti-Shiv Sena web groups. Who demand the arrest of RSS leader KS Sudarshan for calling Sonia a “CIA agent”. Who are far too immature, irresponsible and highstrung to handle a truly free internet, or for that matter, democracy.

    Who, oh who could they possibly be?
     
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  17. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

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    The government is quite petty.Censorship in the social media will not repair its already battered image among the youth and the middle claß
     
  18. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

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    The nyt did a better job of protecting the indian freedom of speech enshrined in the constitution than the desi media.We need the Bhushanr to file a writ
     
  19. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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    Idiot Kapil Sibal hit more than Million on FB and Twitter today. :pound:
     
  20. nrj

    nrj Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Sibbal proving his loyalty to SG.

    Though they've legal ground, this is cheap level trick which will do more harm than good to them.

    Dear UPA,

    Please curb actual abuse thousands suffer in this country. SG can take some verbal abuse till then.
     
  21. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

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    Sayared file a writ defending the freedom of speech espoused in the constitution in the courts
     

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