Update: Google has also responded to the Indian Government’s call for pre-screening internet content on social networks. Responding to a query from MediaNama, a Google spokesperson has issued the following statement:

“We believe that access to information is the foundation of a free society. Google Search helps spread knowledge, enabling people to find out about almost anything by typing a few words into a computer.  And services like YouTube and Google+ help users to express themselves and share different points of view.  Where content is illegal or breaks our terms of service we will continue to remove it.”

Yesterday, Google had clarified that it would not remove content just because its controversial as it believed that people’s differeing views, as long as they’re legal and don’t violate its policies, should be respected and protected.

Earlier: Social networking giant Facebook has responded to Indian government’s request to prescreen and eliminate “objectionable” user generated content stating that it understands the government’s interest in minimizing abusive content online, however it wants to keep Facebook as a free and neutral platform where people can discuss thing freely and it already has policies and on-site features that enable people to report abusive content, reports NDTV. The company further added that it will remove any objectionable content that is hateful, threatening, incites violence or contains nudity, which violates their terms.

Previously, the New York Times’ India Ink blog had reported that Indian government has asked ISPs and sites like Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft to “prescreen” user generated content from India. Following this, India’s acting telecommunications minister Kapil Sibal had stated in a press conference earlier today that the government doesn’t believe in censorship but instead they were seeking co-operation from the intermediaries to develop mechanisms on their own to ensure that defamatory, obscene and inflammatory material are removed as soon as they know about it.

Indian Govt. VS Internet Companies

Sibal informed that he had met representatives from companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and Microsoft on 5th September, 2011 and had asked them to come up with an appropriate solution in four weeks. He claimed that he followed it up with multiple reminders on 3rd October and 19th October which were met with no response. Following this, Department of Information and Technology’s Secretary Chandrashekar, reportedly conducted a meeting with these companies to formulate a framework for the disablement of objectionable material and came up with a draft framework for the same. Kapil Sibal claimed that the companies had agreed orally to several clauses of the framework but were non-committal on paper. On 29th November, Kapil Sibal reportedly asked for their written responses and a week later, i.e. on 5th December, the companies responded back saying that they cannot do anything, indicating that US community standards apply to their platforms.

Kapil Sibal further added that companies were also hesitant in providing email data pertaining to terrorists, and some of them had even moved to court, possibly indicating Yahoo India’s case in the Delhi High Court against the government. He finally stated that they are currently working on a solution within the government, which will ensure that objectionable content is not allowed, stressing on that fact that the Indian government does not want to interfere with the freedom of the press.


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