[At-Large] Fwd: [governance] Sibal demands pre-censorship of user-uploaded content

Salanieta T. Tamanikaiwaimaro salanieta.tamanikaiwaimaro at gmail.com
Tue Dec 6 09:39:17 UTC 2011

On Tue, Dec 6, 2011 at 9:28 PM, Pranesh Prakash <pranesh at cis-india.org>wrote:

> This would be of interest to people on this list as well.  The Minister
> (who is an experienced Supreme Court lawyer) just held a press
> conference an hour ago to justify the below report, saying he is all for
> freedom of speech, but that there is content online that no one in a
> democracy won't find objectionable.

The issue of content restriction is something that has been the subject of
much debate from intellectual property, child pornography etc. What are the
boundaries of censorship? What is the perfect balance? Is the notion of an
open and free internet being threatened? What is freedom of expression on
the internet?

This is something that was explored in the Special Rapporteur on the
Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression
Frank La Rue see page 19 para 69 in

> This is content that he cannot
> share with the general populace because it is so objectionable that it
> should not be shown on TV or published in print.
> - Pranesh
> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: [governance] Sibal demands pre-censorship of user-uploaded content
> Date: Tue, 06 Dec 2011 10:32:28 +0530
> From: Pranesh Prakash <pranesh at cis-india.org>
> Reply-To: governance at lists.cpsr.org,Pranesh Prakash <pranesh at cis-india.org
> >
> Organization: Centre for Internet and Society
> To: Internet Governance Caucus List <governance at lists.cpsr.org>,
> india-gii at lists.cpsr.org
> In a moment of divine inspiration, the Indian Minister for
> Communications and Information Technology asks Facebook, Google, Yahoo
> and Microsoft to pre-censor user-uploaded content.
> // Pranesh
> From the New York Times, which broke the story:
> <http://goo.gl/BXQHY>
> DECEMBER 5, 2011, 6:33 AM
> India Asks Google, Facebook to Screen User Content
> The Indian government has asked Internet companies and social media
> sites like Facebook to prescreen user content from India and to remove
> disparaging, inflammatory or defamatory content before it goes online,
> three executives in the information technology industry say.
> Top officials from the Indian units of Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and
> Facebook are meeting with Kapil Sibal, India’s acting telecommunications
> minister, on Monday afternoon to discuss the issue, say two executives
> of Internet companies. The executives asked not to be identified because
> they are not authorized to speak to the media on the issue.
> Mr. Sibal’s office confirmed that he would meet with Internet service
> providers Monday but did not provide more information about the content
> of the meeting.
> About six weeks ago, Mr. Sibal called legal representatives from the top
> Internet service providers and Facebook into his New Delhi office, said
> one of the executives who was briefed on the meeting.
> At the meeting, Mr. Sibal showed attendees a Facebook page that maligned
> the Congress Party’s president, Sonia Gandhi.  “This is unacceptable,”
> he told attendees, the executive said, and he asked them to find a way
> to monitor what is posted on their sites.
> In the second meeting with the same executives in late November, Mr.
> Sibal told them that he expected them to use human beings to screen
> content, not technology, the executive said.
> The three executives said Mr. Sibal has told these companies that he
> expects them to set up a proactive prescreening system, with staffers
> looking for objectionable content and deleting it before it is posted.
> The executives said representatives from these companies will tell Mr.
> Sibal at the meeting on Monday that his demand is impossible, given the
> volume of user-generated content coming from India, and that they cannot
> be responsible for determining what is and isn’t defamatory or disparaging.
> “If there’s a law and there’s a court order, we can follow up on it,”
> said an executive from one of the companies attending the meeting. But
> these companies can’t be in the business of deciding what is and isn’t
> legal to post, he said.
> Yahoo, Facebook and Microsoft did not respond immediately to calls for
> comment, and a Google spokeswoman said the company had no comment on the
> issue. Facebook said earlier this year it has more than 25 million users
> in India. Google has over 100 million Internet users in India.
> The demand is the Indian government’s latest attempt to monitor and
> control electronic information. In April, the ministry issued rules
> demanding Internet service providers delete information posted on Web
> sites that officials or private citizens deemed disparaging or
> harassing. Last year, the government battled with Blackberry’s
> manufacturer, Research In Motion, threatening to shut the company’s
> service off in India if it did not allow government officials greater
> access to users’ messages.
> The Indian government also plans to set up its own unit to monitor
> information posted on Web sites and social media sites, executives said,
> which will report to Gulshan Rai, the director general of India’s
> cyber-security monitor.
> A man who answered the phone in Mr. Rai’s office said he did not talk to
> the press and hung up when a reporter asked for a press contact.
> Some Indian cities like Mumbai have already set up special units to
> monitor Internet sites like Facebook and Orkut, the social networking
> site operated by Google, for content considered disparaging or obscene.
> India has made nearly 70 requests to Google to remove content between
> January and June of this year, one of the highest request rates of any
> country though less than the United States’s 92 and Brazil’s 224,
> according to Google’s transparency report.
> Vikas Bajaj contributed reporting from Mumbai.
> --
> Pranesh Prakash
> Programme Manager
> Centre for Internet and Society
> W: http://cis-india.org | T: +91 80 40926283
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Salanieta Tamanikaiwaimaro aka Sala

Tweeter: @SalanietaT
Cell: +679 998 2851

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