The Indian government is planning to drag the key internet players into court on a charge of failing to protect its corrupt politicians from being slagged off online.
The government has been furious that people have not been showing enough respect online and want to make it possible to censor posts which they don’t like. They are particularly upset that people would criticise the fact that the Ghandi family seem to be getting prime political jobs because of their name, rather than experience.
The government had called Google and Facebook into its offices and told them to censor the internet. If Google and Facebook do it, under some kind of industry agreement, then people will not say that the the world’s biggest democracy does it.
However, Google and Facebook have apparently told the Indian politicians that the internet is too big for them to censor and have told them to sling their hook.
So the government has bought charges against Facebook, Google, and 19 other companies and a lower court has told them to censor objectionable material.
Needless to say the 22 internet companies are appealing. Facebook and Google told the Delhi High Court that they cannot block offensive content that appears on their services.
The two internet giants are among 21 companies that have been asked to develop a mechanism to block objectionable material in India.
It all comes down to a daft law drafted by the Indian government last year which makes companies responsible for user content posted on their websites, requiring them to take it down within 36 hours in case of a complaint.
According to ZDNet, journalist Vinay Rai bought the case against 21 social networking sites for showing images deemed offensive to Christians, Hindus, and Muslims.
The politicians claimed that it was all about keeping the various religious groups in India from each other’s throats, but many see it as a fairly blatant attempt to stop people talking about corruption, bribery and nepotism.
Civil rights groups are opposed to the law and Facebook and Google have previously said they can’t and won’t censor content in the country
As Neeraj Kishan Kaul, one of Google’s lawyers, told Reuters, if you use blocks on words like ‘sex’ you end up cutting a government document like a voter ID list or a passport which included the word ‘sex’.