India’s government refutes claims it wants to adopt Chinese-style Web censorship

India’s government refutes claims it wants to adopt Chinese-style Web censorship

The Indian government has denied that it is heading down a path that will see it block Facebook, Google and other Internet companies, as part of an ongoing legal dispute concerning the removal of unsuitable content from the Web.

Milind Deora, who is India’s minister of state for communications and information technology, today revealed that the government doesn’t want to block the sites or censor media, that’s despite a Delhi court warning Web companies that they would face Chinese-style censorship.

Deora told the Wall Street Journal India Real Time blog:

We don’t want to get into the business of censoring any media – we can’t do it, and we don’t want to. No one is saying we’re going to shut any of these companies down.

Deora further clarified that the government is looking to develop a system that will allow Indian Internet users to remove content online that they feel is in breach of Indian laws or is obscene of objectionable.

Acting telecom minister Kapil Sibal has been at the centre of proceedings since they kicked off in November, when the New York Times claimed that the government was seeking to pre-screen Internet content published to Google, Facebook and other sites.

Sibal, who refuted the report, claimed himself that the government is working to develop a new approach to handle the issue as India’s legal system is not suitably empowered to do so. Nonetheless a private lawsuit — submitted by an Indian tech journalist — is under way with Facebook and Google both accused of circulating “obscene, lascivious content”under three sections of the Indian penal code.

Previously, Sibal suggested that the Indian government would work with Internet firms directly to solve the issue — after Google and Facebook both claimed that their existing content management system were adequate enough — but it remains how this will develop with both Facebook and Google continually opposing the requests, which they labelled “infeasible”.

The government has now thrown yet more confusion into the foray with the claim that it is not looking to shut down the sites. That threat had appeared to be its main tactic to force Facebook and others into adopting new processes, and now it remains to be seen how things will develop.

[Image via Flickr user pshab]

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