Indian Telecommunications Minister Kapil Sibal Asks Facebook and Google To Prescreen User Content

Posted Dec 5, 2011

Kapil Sibal, minister for Telecommunications and Human Resource Development, asked Internet companies like Facebook and and Google to pre-screen user content from India and to remove inflammatory or defamatory content before it goes online.

Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Yahoo! officials are meeting with Sibal today to discuss the issue. About 6 weeks ago Sibal called legal representatives from several Internet service providers and Facebook to meet at his office in New Delhi. Sibal showed the attendees a Facebook page that was bashing on Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi. He said “This was unacceptable” and asked the company representatives to find a way to monitor what is posted on their websites.

In another meeting this past November Sibal told them that he expected to use human beings for screening the content rather than technology. He wants staff members to look through the objectionable content and delete it before it is posted. The executives at these companies are expected to tell Sibal that the demand is impossible given the volume of user-generated content that is coming from India.

?If there?s a law and there?s a court order, we can follow up on it,? said an executive from the company, but these companies are not in the business of deciding what is legal and what is not legal. Facebook has over 25 million users in India and Google has over 100 million.

The Indian government plans on setting up their own division to monitor information that is posted on social media websites. Facebook and Orkut is already being monitored by the government. The Indian government has sent about 70 requests to Google to have content removed between January and June of this year. The American government made 92 requests and Brazilian government made 224 requests to have content removed.

[New York Times]