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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

Sibal gets what he set out to censor

Agencies  New Delhi, December 06, 2011
First Published: 09:02 IST(6/12/2011) | Last Updated: 20:02 IST(10/12/2011)

Union communications and IT minister Kapil Sibal's demand from social network sites, like Facebook and Google, to prescreen user content from India and remove disparaging, inflammatory or defamatory content before it goes online has received bitter criticism on the social networking site Twitter.

Sibal cited an example of a religious place that turned out to be a pornographic site, and told them such content played with religious sentiments, the sources said.

A number of retweets and comments on Twitter came pouring in on the demand made by him saying "Kapil Sibal is an Idiot".

Kafila.org has started a campaign asking people to write 'Kapil Sibal' is an idiot' on their Facebook status message, to use the hashtag #IdiotKapilSibal on Twitter and write a blog post with titles censorship, Internet censorship in India, Kapil Sibal.

@over_rated retweeted, "The next task Kapil Sibal is going to undertake is to enumerate the grammatical errors in a Chetan Bhagat 'novel.'"

"Dare to think beyond Arindam Chaudhuri: Kapil Sibal," tweeted @fakingnews. @Joydas Joy wrote, "Kapil Sibal Asks Google, Facebook to Scan User Content" - "Google, Facebook asks Kapil Sibal to Scan Brains."

RT @Dosabandit Hey Kapil Sibal, why this kolaveri da? Take it easy macha! Chumma don't get angry, grow up.

The company representatives are believed to have told Sibal his demand was impossible, given the volume of user-generated content from India, and that they cannot be responsible for determining what is and is not defamatory or disparaging. They also said the demand could be implemented only if there was a clear law.

Six weeks ago, the sources said, Sibal had called legal representatives of top internet service providers and social network sites to his office and showed them a Facebook page that maligned Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. “This is unacceptable,” he had said, asking those present to find a way to monitor what is posted on their sites.

Facebook has more than 25 million users in India and Google about 100 million. According to a Google transparency report, India made nearly 70 requests to remove content between January and June of this year.

This isn't the government's first attempt to control electronic information. In April, it issued rules demanding internet service providers delete information posted on websites that officials or private citizens deemed disparaging. Last year, it threatened to shut down Blackberry services in India if its manufacturer, Research In Motion, did not allow government officials greater access to users' messages.


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