Web censorship: Govt. wants social media sites to work within laws

By Kul Bhushan Published Date
07 - Feb - 2012
| Last Updated
07 - Feb - 2012
Web censorship: Govt. wants social media sites to work within law...

Google yesterday asserted removing alleged offensive content from its Indian services including search service, YouTube and Blogger to comply with a court directive in a civil lawsuit. The Delhi court has asked some 21 Internet companies including Facebook and Google to present their plans for monitoring their services in next 15 days. The lawsuit against the Internet companies accuses them of hosting obscene content that might hurt religious sentiments of people.

Google India earlier had said that it was impossible to monitor content with billions accessing the Internet every moment. The company had then said that it would not remove content just because it was controversial. However, Google's U-turn on the issue has surprised many.

Minister of State for Communications and IT Sachin Pilot, meanwhile, said that the government did not intend to impose censorship on the Internet companies but all the websites including social media sites will have to operate within the laws of the country. The minister further said that the social networking sites need to abide by the laws that have been made after consultation with them.

Pilot also stressed the need for a redressal mechanism for the offensive content online. The minister said that a system should be formed where people can easily register their complaints with regards to objectionable content. Pilot's remarks came in the wake of the Delhi court's order to Facebook, Yahoo, Google and other 19 websites to give written statements on the issue of offensive content.

Google and Facebook have challenged a separate, criminal complaint about offensive content in the Delhi High Court. The next hearings are slated to be held on February 14 and 15. According to the Information Technology Act of 2008, the government is authorised to order web portals to block websites.

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