People express their ideas, opinions and comments on private and public matters in various social net works such as Facebook, Twitter and Orkut, and Search Engines such as Google and Yahoo publish the contents of the people in the internet.
Recentlly, some pictures depicting the Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a bad light had been published in the internet.
Also, there have been some contents which could hurt the religious sentiments of a large section of communities in India.
And Mr.Kabil Sibal, the Indian Union Telecommunications Minister called the officials of :
- Youtube and
Mr.Kabil Sibal told them that while nobody minds satirical image of any public personality, it will not be acceptable if a certain form of them are shown and individuals should be protected. And the minister asked them to manually screen the contents before they are floated in the internet.
However, the officials from the Search Engines and Social Network Sites almost declined to give any written assurance as to remove the offensive contents or to screen manually all the contents before publishing in the internet, as it would be next to impossible. They said they will take any action only if the ministry comes out with court orders.’
Further to the meetings with the representatives/officials of the Search Engines and Social Websites, the Telecom Minister has told that:
- The Indian government will not allow social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Orkut to host ‘objectionable’ content and will take steps to screen and remove these.
- The government did not intent to curb free expression but also could not tolerate and remain a mute spectator to ‘objectionable’ content that hurt religious sentiments or ‘maligned’ an individual’s identity.
- However this government does not believe in either directly or indirectly interfering in the freedom of the press
- And the internet platforms should evolve a mechanism on their own to ensure that such contents are removed as soon as they get to know of the same.
- The present Government of India, is not planning to have a ‘censor’ on the internet but decided to Remove from the internet all the offensive and objectionable contents.
To the doubts/questions as to what would constitutes ‘objectionable’/’offensive’ and who would decide what is tantamount to ‘hurting’ religious sentiments or an individual’s personal integrity and privacy the Government officials say that they will come up with guidelines.
The Search Engines and Social Network Sites would have to differentiate between what was controversial and what was illegal and anything that what went against statute has been removed by their team, including content that went against their own strict terms and conditions.
However, when contents are legal but controversial they do not and will not remove them as the people’s differing views should be respected, so long as they are legal.
There is an opinion that as Mr.Kabil Sibal was wrong on the 2G scam with his ‘zero loss’ theory, he is very very wrong in trying to bring to India the Chinese model of controlling Internet.