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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Kapil Sibal gets lampooned for views on Web control

Is India — which ranks third in Internet use globally — going the China way by imposing Internet restrictions? Telecoms and information technology minister, Kapil Sibal, on Monday, sought censorship of content on social networking sites. Reports that Sibal urged social network companies, including Facebook, Twitter and Google, to remove offensive material has unleashed a storm of criticism in Bangalore.
Sibal justified his observations by showing images from the Internet that could offend religious sentiments. However, this argument did not cut any ice with Internet-users. “Sibal was wrong on the 2G scam with his ‘zero loss’ theory. He is very wrong in trying to bring to India the Chinese model of controlling the Internet. It is doomed to fail,” said Rajeev Chandrasekhar on Twitter.
“The Congress should not make amendments to the Constitution and just take away our right to freedom of expression,” said Prithvi Reddy of India Against Corruption (IAC). “Instead of trying to take the country forward, they are taking it backward,” he added .
The intention behind these developments is to put restrictions on civil society and citizens’ movements, noted Reddy.
Vikram Hemanathan, an organiser of SlutWalk Bangalore, a campaign that used the Web extensively, said: “We are treading a thin line between a free country and one where the government decides our every move. This is against our fundamental rights.”
Earlier in the year, new rules were created obliging Internet companies to remove a range of objectionable content when requested to do so, a move criticised at the time by rights groups and social media companies.
It was not clear if Sibal was proposing stiffer regulation, but Union law minister Salman Khurshid later said his colleague was calling for dialogue about offensive content, not censorship.
The hash-tag ‘#IdiotKapilSibal’ was a rage on Twitter on Tuesday. “The idea has not been thought through,” said Anirban Sen, an avid Twitter user.
Facebook said in a statement that it recognised the government’s wish to minimise the amount of offensive content on the Web, but added that it already removes content that violates company rules on nudity and inciting violence and hatred.
Source :, Dec 7, 2011

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