Indian Government Plays Big Daddy With Content Censorship

by Prasant Naidu on December 6, 2011

in News


You Are Censored Now

Last evening when I read that the Indian government wants to censor the new media, believe me I wasn’t at all surprised.

According to the New York Times, top officials from the Indian units of Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook met Kapil Sibal, India’s acting telecommunication minister, on Monday afternoon to discuss the issue. The issue has been doing the rounds and the two big questions that arise in democratic India today is: i) Can the government kill the freedom of expression in a democracy and ii) Even if it is agreed upon, how effectively can it be done.

Why it is being done

2011 has been the year of people’s power against ruthless governments all over the globe. Whether it be the uproar from the Tahir Square that shook the pillars of Egyptian rules to bring down the autocrat leader General Gaddafi or the London riots. Public anger was always there but I believe that it was technology that aided their anger. But as they say there are two sides to any power and the negative powers were witnessed during the London Riots. Technology was used but in a way one wouldn’t expect to happen. Back home we saw the biggest movement after Independence, The Anna movement. Anna went on to fast in the Ramlila grounds with thousands of people supporting him and many more joined in their cities. The movement was a big blow to the government and the corrupt politicians first time witnessed how people were supporting it without any incentive. The movement was further accelerated by ‘India Against Corruption’ who started a campaign way before the movement but the government wasn’t paying heed to it then. Personally, I had supported the movement and got all the information about the meets, processions, gatherings, etc. by the power of social media. Like me thousands of Indians followed the web presence of India Against Corruption. It was only when the movement ended with the government bending down to consider Anna’s Janlokpal Bill that it actually realized its helplessness before the powers of people’s media.

So is the government now trying to solve their helplessness in two ways:

1. By creating its own social media presence.

2. By regulating the content that is objectionable to the government.

 

The government does have a social media presence but then it really needs to pull up its socks. The Facebook pages are nothing more than a collective junkyard of links. However, the social media draft that was recently published has been a good move by the government.

Regulation of content or pre-screening of content before they are published kills the freedom of expression and near to impossible task for companies to manage. To top it, the government also wants companies like Google, Facebook, etc. to monitor content by humans and not by technology. This is going to be a challenge for internet companies working in India to a) decide on what is objectionable and what is not and b) set up a workforce to track them. Also the government is not depending on the internet companies but it has decided to set up its own unit to monitor content posted on websites and social media sites.

As of now, no internet company except Facebook has made any statement in terms of the talks that had happened on Monday with the department. Additionally, it would be interesting to see what would be Yahoo’s response which has already challenged Indian government’s fine of R11 lakh that had been imposed because Yahoo refused to share profile details of certain email id’s. I believe that freedom of expression shouldn’t be suppressed in a way to meet individual needs and wants and especially so in a democracy.

Perhaps the coming times would give a clearer picture on this and hopefully we would know where we are headed to!

Picture Courtesy: David Icke

Prasant Naidu

Founder and Blogger at Lighthouse Insights.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/kunalvbajaj Kunal Bajaj

    We need One harvinder singh for great Mr. Kapil Sibal.. Oh god i can be sued for this comment :D 

    • http://lighthouseinsights.in/ Prasant Naidu

      yeah even my this post too :P

  • http://www.facebook.com/kunalvbajaj Kunal Bajaj

    What next? Censorship on blog? Bloggers sued for expressing their thoughts?

    • http://lighthouseinsights.in/ Prasant Naidu

      yeah Mr. Kapil and his bunch of so called educated political techies want to do this going further. this government is going to drains :)

  • http://twitter.com/vijeet_rathi Vijeet Rathi

    Firstly, as I see it is impossible to monitor humongous amounts of content posted everyday. Secondly, it is great surprise to me that a minister of Kapil Sibal’s calibre and qualification is talking all this. Lastly, it seems to be just a ploy to divert the attention of the media and the people from the Lokpal Bill to something that is not as serious an issue as corruption.

    • http://lighthouseinsights.in/ Prasant Naidu

      I am not at all surprised by the stance from the government and ks is just a mouth piece :) yes the ploy is to divert from the real issues. 

  • http://www.emportant.com Sandeep Todi

    http://bit.ly/tzTULd – a good observation by Lakshmi, also commented my views and not re-posting here.

    • http://lighthouseinsights.in/ Prasant Naidu

      thanks @sandeeptodi:disqus :) will read it now

  • Anonymous

    last evening the news were all wrapped up with these news. right from zee news to aaj tak. Well more than idea, its an idea thats really hard to monitor unless brutal algorithm is in place with loads of man hour force. 

    • http://lighthouseinsights.in/ Prasant Naidu

      even i was seeing couple of them but don’t you think they were the same things that were anyways discussed on Twitter :) its interesting to see what more this government does!

  • Pingback: Is Twitter Censorship Curbing Freedom Of Expression? | Lighthouse Insights

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