In a policy decision likely to have serious implications, Mr. Sibal has asked Internet Giants: Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo, to censor and moderate all the content that is generated by users from India.
The issue is not new, but this one started when a Facebook Page containing defamatory remarks about Sonia Gandhi was discovered last month. Mr. Sibal has called it “unacceptable” and asked the companies’ Executives to look for a way to “monitor what is posted on their sites”. A top official in the ministry, however has taken a dual stand, “The government of India does not believe in censorship. But sensitivity and feelings of different communities cannot be allowed to be hurt. They (the Internet companies) host these sites and they must regulate it (the content),”
The Tech giants though have assured Mr. Sibal that the specific compliant will be looked into, but refrained from committing on the “Censoring” part. However, the matter has further aggravated when an US embassy official allegedly called up an Additional Secretary in his ministry (after the meeting) to express displeasure over the Indian position. The ministry is furious with another official saying, “This is completely unacceptable. The embassy has no business interfering,”. Mr. Sibal, though, has yet to comment.
HRD minister Mr. Sibal may have another agenda as he demanded, “use human beings to screen content, not technology”. What he meant was to setup a system through which objectionable content could be detected and deleted before it is actually posted / visible (Pre-Screening) online. With such a huge user base in India, how many people will be required to effectively monitor & censor content is anyone’s guess.