07 December 2011

Kapil Calls for Social Media Screening

The Government of India has asked the social networking giants like Twitter, Facebook and Google to filter derogatory, defamatory and inflammatory content on religious figures and top political leaders like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi on the Web.

 Union Communications Minister Kapil Sibal has taken a strong stand against the objectionable contents especially on these sites especially that of Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh and has reportedly asked them to remove all such contents or face action. However, despite his desperate attempts, the officials from companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo! who met the minister has reportedly refused to agree to his demands but stated they would look into any matter brought to their notice. What triggered Sibal’s sudden move seems to be the morphed images of Manmohan and Sonia spreading on Facebook carrying different captions. The minister also warned them of ‘stern action’ if they failed to act.

Kapil Sibal tried to justify the government’s decision with various other concerns as well. The next in his list was safety concerns reportedly raised by Indian intelligence agencies demanding for better monitoring these websites for security reasons. These agencies had asked for better access to communications passing through BlackBerry’s highly secure messaging services last year. The Canadian company, Research in Motion, declined to provide access to its enterprise email, but had agreed to allow the government agencies to monitor its consumer services including the Messenger services.

However, the practicality of the new demand from the acting communication minister is quite complex as it’s nearly impossible to get the interminable data, including comments and blogs, on various social networks cleared first. As the country would desire no technological barriers that would stop the way the businesses is run on online, but a proposed digital wall would leave us nothing less than a halt.