India Seeks Censorship of Facebook, Google and Other Social Media Sites

India's Telecommunications Minister, Kapil Sabil (Photo: The Hindu)

India's Telecommunications Minister, Kapil Sabil (Photo: The Hindu)

Following in the footsteps of China and Pakistan, it’s now India’s turn to request censorship of the Internet–namely concerning social media sites such as Facebook and Google. The Indian government’s specific request? That leading officials from the Indian units of Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft agree to “remove disparaging, inflammatory or defamatory content before it goes online”.

According to a New York Times report, the issue escalated when derogatory comments were left on Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi’s Facebook page. Kapil Sibal, India’s acting telecommunications minister, called the posting of such content “unacceptable”, although little insight has been offered into why Facebook controls to monitor user comments were not utilized.

There are a reported 25 million Facebook users in India, and an additional 100 million who use Google. In China, firewalls block sites like Facebook in their entirety–much like a few occasions in which Pakistan has also blocked access to Facebook. India is instead seeking the help of the Internet companies themselves to create or modify existing tools that would help monitor user-generated content.

A Google spokesperson had no comment on the issue, whereas Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft have yet to respond. Regardless of the Indian government’s methods to remove negative and/or anti-government comments from the Internet, the censorship will undoubtedly be met with resistance from a politically vocal youth that relies on the World Wide Web as a form of expression.

Sabrina Siddiqui is the editor-in-chief of Divanee.com.

@sabrinasiddiqui