Feeds

India asks Facebook and friends to screen content

Google and other net giants in meetings with gov over 'offensive content'

The Power of One Infographic

Indian officials have joined the many governments that are beginning to get edgy about social media and the web, asking internet firms to get rid of content it considers offensive.

Reports late on Monday claimed that the government had had meetings with executives from Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft about moderating online content.

India's minister of communications and information technology, Kapil Sibal, confirmed the meetings today, but denied that the request was censorship.

"We have to take care of the sensibilities of our people," Sibal told reporters during a press conference in New Delhi, The New York Times reported.

"Cultural ethos is very important to us," he added.

But he emphasised that there were things on the internet that "any normal human being would be offended by".

The government wants the companies to come up with a way to get rid of the "offensive" content as soon as it's made, no matter which country it's created in, Sibal added.

Sibal was not keen to define exactly what was meant by "offensive" content, but said he had seen things on the net that would "hurt the religious sentiments of large sections of the community".

Facebook said in a widely reported statement that it would remove any content "that violates our terms, which are designed to keep material that is hateful, threatening, incites violence or contains nudity off the service".

"We recognise the government's interest in minimising the amount of abusive content that is available online and will continue to engage with the Indian authorities as they debate this important issue," the social network added.

Google told the Associated Press that it takes down content that violates local laws and its own standards.

"But 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," the web giant added.

The news started the hashtag #idiotkapilsibal on Twitter and earned the minister an additional Facebook Page called We Hate Kapil Sibal, as India's millions of internet users took to social media to criticise the move.

India has been becoming more concerned over internet and mobile security in recent times. Back in August, the department of telecommunications was threatening to shut down BlackBerry services in the country if RIM didn't give the government more access to the encrypted messages.

While China is the first country that springs to mind when thinking of internet censorship, many countries are getting worried about the power of social media to drive civil unrest. Even in the UK, the government brought in execs from Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry after the London riots to look at their companies' role in the disturbances. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.