Indian government officials want Web giants Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo to set up a prescreening system to prevent "objectionable" content from being posted.
Indian government official has asked Web companies to remove offensive material
from their sites.
and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal asked executives from Facebook,
Google, Yahoo and Microsoft on Dec. 5 to screen content before displaying them
to users in India, Reuters reported Dec. 6. Sibal had said some of the images
and statements posted on social media risked fanning tensions in India, which
has a history of deadly communal and religious violence.
agreement has been reached, according to Reuters.
goal was not to promote censorship, but to limit offensive content, according
to Law Minister Salman Khurshid. The country already censors films and books it
considers obscene or could cause religious strife.
have to take care of the sensibilities of our people, we have to protect their
sensibilities. Our cultural ethos is very important to us," Sibal said.
is some content on the Internet that "any normal human being would be
offended by," he said during a Dec. 6 press conference. The government has
asked social media companies to develop a way to eliminate offensive content as
soon as it is created, no matter what country it is created in, Sibal said.
April, India created new rules that require Internet companies to remove
objectionable content when requested. The rules were roundly criticized by
various rights groups and Web companies. Sibal said his ministry is working on
guidelines for action against companies that refuse to comply with government
requests, but did not specify the actions.
certainly evolve guidelines to ensure that such blasphemous material is not
part of content on any platform," Sibal told Reuters.
executives reportedly told Sibal that American law applies to them and they are
not subject to the Indian government's rules created in April, according to the
New York Times.
if U.S. law applies, the community standards of India have to be taken into
account," Sibal said.
reported that Sibal called the executives several weeks ago and
showed a Facebook page maligning ruling Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi. The
page was "unacceptable," Sibal reportedly said. He said he found
"subject matter which was so offensive that it hurt the religious
sentiments of large sections of the community" on the Internet, but
declined to define what was considered offensive.
companies should be setting up a proactive prescreening system, with staffers
looking for objectionable content and deleting it before it is posted, Sibal
said. India has made nearly 70 requests to Google to remove content between
January and June of this year, according to Google's
and Google issued statements stating they remove content that violate their
terms of service or is illegal. Facebook will remove content that "is
hateful, threatening, incites violence or contains nudity," the company
said. "We recognize the government's interest in minimizing the amount of
abusive content that is available online and will continue to engage with the
Indian authorities as they debate this important issue," said Facebook.
when content is legal and doesn't violate our policies, we won't remove it just
because it's controversial, as we believe that people's differing views, so
long as they're legal, should be respected and protected," Google said.
year, India's security agencies threatened to block BlackBerry service in the
country if Research In Motion did not provide access to communications sent
through the devices. RIM averted a showdown, but it's not definitely known what
concessions the Canadian smartphone maker made to the Indian government.