IT impotence Even a child knows the only way Ravana, the demon king, could be felled. But trust the Harvard-educated Information Technology (IT) Minister Kapil Sibal, and his home ministry counterpart Sushil Shinde, to shoot darts everywhere except the â€œnavelsâ€ of the likes of Facebook and Google. All that IT babus have done is summon to the local resellers of these social media platforms, and be sermonized back that India must invoke their parent entities, if it wants sensible details about IPs whipping up emotions over the North-East. For all its IT illiteracy, Pakistan has enough brains to see through our stupidity. So, as Shinde howls and growls, Islamabad asks for details. These we canâ€™t have until the parent platforms confide. We arenâ€™t even likely to, given our embarrassing track record invoking the provisions of the mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) with the United States. The US, on its part, remains at a safe distance, sermonizing via a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) babu posted in the New Delhi embassy, ie, any well-argued determination of emergency conditions will be turned around in 3-4 days! Ha! The â€œ3-4 daysâ€ never kick in because our State police donâ€™t even write their cases out in proper English. When they do, their complaints undergo the internal tedium of vetting by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). This, are you surprised to know, takes several months before the complaint reaches the authorised folks in the USofA! By then the guilty have logged out. We should ask Sibal why he doesnâ€™t pick up the RAX and buzz fellow alumnus P Chidambaram. For the â€œnavelâ€ of these social media behemoths isnâ€™t their local handy men. It is in their local-area advertising. If forced, what PC might then do is ask the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) how, with the exception probably of yahoo which has a registered Indian entity, these â€œhamstrung-by-US-lawâ€ folks are collecting advertising from the Indian market. This isnâ€™t censorship, itâ€™s pursuit of national interest. CBDT, as well as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) will have to explain why advertising is flourishing and why there is no rider here for Forex-denominated credit-card payments. As FBâ€™s Kirthiga Reddy gloated in Business Standard last week, her sales to Indian companies are a neat pile. Airtel alone is reported to have spent Rs 30 lakh a day for a campaign called â€œlog out.â€ Reddyâ€™s sales teams are now out to target all desi agencies who have a spend of Rs 5 lakh. A tie up with FICCI might buy in 650 small and medium-sized enterprises, looking for precise directing that FB claims to offer. Discounting Shindeâ€™s social media literacy, are Sibal and Chidambaram really that smug that they canâ€™t figure the leverage that 51 million Indians have on FBâ€™s Mark Zuckerberg, in his desperate battle to arrest the free fall. Googleâ€™s Larry Page and Sergey Brinare just as vulnerable. They have about 50 per cent of Indiaâ€™s digital advertising pie of Rs 4,400 crore (2013 estimate). Googleâ€™s neck is already on the line after ED discovered unexplained credit card transfer of funds from India landing into Ireland. The explanation against specific notices under the foreign exchange management act has been that Google balances tax efficiency with compliance requirements in the country concerned (in this case India). This holds only because Indiaâ€™s taxman has been lax about the obvious revenue (income and service tax) leakage in ads being raised from Indian soil, despite targeted consumption being cited here. In his frustration, Sibal has blocked some 250 IPs via intermediaries. He has also slammed notices under Section 69 (A) of the Information Technology Act. This is a strong provision involving fines and jail for the man in charge. Would the local handy man of google or FB fall within this? If s/he doesnâ€™t, whatâ€™s the big deal of the notices? If s/he does, what would India look like jailing a mere reseller, when the real handlers are well protected under MLAT? The way out isnâ€™t in wringing our hands. Itâ€™s in plugging for the â€œnavel,â€ ensuring that the Indian part of advertising is via entities incorporated locally. Would the civil-liberties types on the social media have a problem with that?