Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Clean up your content or we will: Sibal warns foreign websites

Dear Comrades,

Blaming internet firms for inertia when dealing with objectionable content available online despite repeated requests, Communications Minister Kapil Sibal today said foreign companies operating in India should follow the community standard of the country.

Addressing the media over the ongoing tussle between foreign internet firms like Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the government over inappropriate content going live without a gatekeeper, Sibal said the online companies were contacted on 5 September seeking solutions to this practice.

Union Communications Minister Kapil Sibal. Image courtesy PIB

“Even after three months, the companies failed to come up with a solution and literally raised their hands expressing inability to do anything about it. They cited that they operate under US community standard. But the US Supreme Court once ruled that community standard differed even within the United States,” the minister said.

Expressing fear that the unacceptable content may hurt the diverse and large religious communities in India and ignite communal tensions, he said there should be a mechanism to remove offensive content from websites.

“The government is neither intending to curb freedom of the press nor trying to interfere but this kind of bad content should not be a part of any platform – television, print and online,” the minister continued, trying to steer the government out of a media versus government controversy.

Sibal said the companies were approached to seek their help in curbing this trend and not to regulate them.

“This government does not believe in censorship. Please come up with a solution which you think is appropriate and reasonable,” he said. “It is time to screen user content in India.”

Rejecting the government effort is a knee-jerk reaction against the Anna Hazare movement, the minister said, “This has nothing to do with Anna Hazare‘s movement. It is subject of appropriate conduct on a media platform.”

The minister also reported that the intermediaries even hesitated to share data relating to terrorists.
Although Sibal did not give any time frame of how the government will the tackle the issue, he said if the firms do not take any action the government will be left with no choice but to act on their own.

“Technically the only option available now is spam. We will discuss within our ministry and see what else can be done,” the minister said.

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