This from the NYT today
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.
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.
before it goes online .. how.
I can imagine a “Minority Report’ Kind of a scenario – you are just typing out a disparaging remark and the thought police comes by and arrests you.
Currently, there are 38 million FB users from India, about 50% of all internet users use the service. FB has added 11 million people in the last 6 months.
This is just the traffic out of India. It does not include all the Indians who are active across on social media across the globe. So, do only Indians from India get censored or is the GoI declaring a larger “akhand bharat” across the globe and declaring its rights over People of Indian origin, irrespective of their nationality.
What about content put up by the British – are they Indian too – after all they stayed here long enough! or a Pakistani or an Australian or an person from Guyana… or is the Government reverting to the ancient saying of “vasudeva kutumbam” and declaring the whole world to be Indian to monitor the content of everyone.
Also, As of this week FB announced that
In September, we increased the character limit on status updates to 5,000 characters. Today, we’re announcing that you can now write posts with more than 60,000 characters.
38 million people posting between 200 to 60,000 characters – plus pages, plus posts, notes, blog imports, link posts etal. And, this only is FB. I don’t know how many blogs there are, how many active twitter users, and how many people active on discussion groups and the rest.
It would be very interesting to know how the Government plans to screen content before it is posted. You are going to put 38 million status updates and assorted stuff into moderation ?
And finally, what is -disparaging, inflammatory or defamatory content. Is saying “my boss / client is an ass” is that disparaging (the ass might object)… What is inflammatory – if i post a chunk from the Mahabharata, the bit where Shishupala is deriding Krishna – is that inflammatory (if it was said today, there would be riots) . Has the Governemnt even read Dr.Ambedkar on why Caste should be Annihilated – (it can be considered to be all three).
If people are abusing the Government, conduct a PR activity, don’t censor. It will just confirm what they are saying about you. Besides, as a citizen, it is my right to criticize the Government, they exist to make your life easier. Not to restrict your freedom to crib.
btw – can anyone compute the manpower required to screen 38 million status updates and other sundry posts out of India … does that manpower even exist?