News / Asia

India Demands Web Content Filters

A girl surfs a Facebook page at an Internet cafe in Gauhati, India, Dec. 6, 2011.
A girl surfs a Facebook page at an Internet cafe in Gauhati, India, Dec. 6, 2011.
Anjana Pasricha

India is warning Internet companies that it will take action to remove offensive content from their sites if they do not do so voluntarily.

India's Minister of Communications and Information Technology Kapil Sibal has asked representatives of Yahoo, Google, Facebook and Microsoft to screen and remove offensive user content and derogatory material. He said he has not met with any success and is accusing companies of not cooperating.

"We have to take care of the sensibilities of our people," he said, explaining that he wants companies to implement a monitoring mechanism that filters images and content that could inflame religious sensibilities. "Our cultural ethos is very important to us and we will not allow the religious sentiments of large sections of the community to be hurt in this fashion, and we will not allow intermediaries to say that we throw up our hands, we cannot do anything about it."

Sibal added that the government will develop guidelines and mechanisms to ensure "blasphemous material" is not uploaded, though he did not elaborate.

Explaining that the demands aren't tantamount to censorship, he describes his request as a call for "self-regulation."

“This government does not believe in censorship," he said. "This government does not believe in either directly or indirectly interfering in the freedom of the press, and we have demonstrated that time and again."  

Among the "offensive content" that has apparently angered the government were posts insulting to Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The minister showed reporters doctored photos of the prime minister and of Sonia Gandhi, along with images of pigs running through Islam's holy city of Mecca.

In a statement, Facebook said it wants the social networking site to be a place where people can discuss things freely, while respecting the rights and feelings of others. It said it already has policies and on-site features in place that enable people to report abusive content. The statement said the company will continue to engage with Indian authorities on the issue.

India has 100 million Internet users. Although that is slightly less than 10 percent of the population, the volume of user content the community generates is huge. According to domestic media reports, Internet companies have cited this fact to strengthen their argument that meeting the government’s demand is impossible.   

The government’s desire to regulate content evoked strong reactions in India, with many bloggers and Twitter commenters ridiculing the minister and suggesting he did not understand the Internet.

The government also attempted an electronic crackdown last year when it requested access to secure communications over BlackBerry devices. At that time the government said it wanted access because of security concerns, but it later backed off.

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid