by Yasir Ameen
Pakistan is not the only country where the authorities try to block or monitor online content but there are many countries indeed who believe in censorship of internet with controlled freedom of access to the masses
These countries are mostly are termed as having autocratic rule such as Iran, China and Russia but it also happens in democratic country like India where they authorities have decided to control content over social media.
The country of 1.2 billion people created new rules earlier this year obliging Internet companies to remove a range of objectionable content when requested to do so, a move criticized at the time by rights groups and social media companies.
Recently, Indian authorities have urged social network companies including Facebook, Twitter and Google to remove offensive material particularly the content which is offensive against the family of Indian’s founder Gandhi or the ruling government.
The government is very sensitive to criticism of Gandhi, whose family has dominated Indian politics since before independence from the British and has lost two prominent figures to assassination.
Officials are often keen to be seen as protectors of the family. Last year there were moves to block the English translation of a Spanish novel about Sonia Gandhi’s life.
The government move led to unleash a storm of criticism from Internet users complaining of censorship in the world’s largest democracy.
Telecom and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal met executives from Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft Monday to ask them to screen content, but no agreement with the companies was reached, Reuters reported.
Facebook said in a statement it recognized the government’s wish to minimize the amount of offensive content on the web. The California-based company said it removes content that violates company rules on nudity and inciting violence and hatred.
Internet search giant Google, which owns social networking site Orkut and video-sharing site YouTube, also said it already removes content when it is illegal or against its own policy.
But when content is legal and doesn’t violate our policies, we won’t remove it just because it’s controversial, as we believe that people’s differing views, so long as they’re legal, should be respected and protected, Reuters quoted company statement.
Yahoo India did not comment, as did Microsoft’s Indian public relations agency.
India has 100 million Internet users, less than a tenth of the country’s population of 1.2 billion. It is the third-largest user base behind China and theUnited States. It is seen swelling to 300 million users in the next three years.
Last year, as part of a broader electronic security crackdown, Indian security agencies demanded access to communications sent through highly secure BlackBerry devices of Canadian smartphone maker Research In Motion.