The New York Times is reporting a rather archaic-sounding move by the Indian government: asking other big social media sites to prescreen all content that users post to remove anything “disparaging, inflammatory or defamatory…before it goes online.”
The telecommunications minister for India, Kapil Sibal, met with top officials from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook this week.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the internet giants refused India’s demands that they prescreen all user content before it is posted, so the government said they will take matters into their own hands.
Without getting into specifics, Sibal said that the companies informed him they were unable to comply with the government’s request that they adhere to a voluntary framework to keep offensive content off the internet.
Both Facebook and Google released statements on their policy towards offensive material, after Sibal showed their representatives posts on Facebook and elsewhere that were insulting to the Prime Minister, Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi and religious leader.
Facebook said that it removes content that “is hateful, threatening, incites violence or contains nudity”, while Google explains that it removes content that either violates local laws or its own policies.
And although Twitter wasn’t specifically called out as part of these meetings, you can be sure that the government would like to see tweet screen before they’re posted too.
Despite their best efforts, it’s unlikely that the Indian government will be able to censor the internet. Social networks have simply become part of the fabric of life for many of its citizens, and human rights and freedom advocates would no doubt be up in arms if word of censorship got out.
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