Govt asks Google, Facebook to self-regulate content
NEW DELHI: Concerned over objectionable content on social networking sites, the government today made it clear that it cannot allow this to go on and has asked the Internet firms like Google and Facebook to fall in line.
"I suggested that these platforms should evolve a mechanism on their own to ensure that such contents are removed as soon as they get to know of it... I have told them that this cannot go on.
"I believe that no reasonable person, aware of the sensibilities of a large section of the communities in this country, would wish to see this in the public domain," Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters here.
Asking these firms to evolve a mechanism and come back with a solution, Sibal said, "This government does not believe in either directly or indirectly interfering in the freedom of the press." The content posted on some of the sites, the minister said, was so offensive that it would hurt the religious sentiments of a large section of communities in the country.
These contents would also offend any reasonable person looking at those images.
Sibal further said Internet firms were asked in September to find ways to handle the objectionable content within four weeks, but they did not respond despite repeated reminders.
In early November, the government had prepared the framework for a code of conduct for handling objectionable information. The issue was also discussed with Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and Facebook, he said.
Internet firms have "backtracked" in giving written a response to the framework prepared by the government, Sibal said. "Orally, they had given consent to some of the clauses, but in writing, they backtracked. They said they cannot do anything. They also suggested that community standards of the US will apply here." Sibal, however, cited US Supreme Court judgements that said community standards differ in the US from place to place.
"Even if the US laws were to be applied here, the community standards in India have to be taken into account," he said.
Asked about the future course of action, the minister said: "... whatever step we take now, we will do it after careful consideration." The government will "certainly evolve" guidelines to ensure that such "blasphemous" material is not part of the content on any platform, he said.
Pointing out that the Internet firms have not yet taken off the objectionable material, Sibal stressed that the government was not interfering with the freedom of the press.
"They (media) were blaming the government for interfering in the freedom of the press. This is far from the truth because we are seeking their cooperation and if somebody is not willing to cooperate on incendiary material like this, it is the duty of the government to think of steps," he said.
In a statement, Facebook said: "We want Facebook to be a place where people can discuss things freely, while respecting the rights and feelings of others, which is why already have policies and on-site features in place that enable people to report abusive content."
"We will remove any content that violates our terms, which are designed to keep material that is hateful, threatening, incites violence or contains nudity off the service. We recognise the government's interest in minimising the amount of abusive content that is available online and will continue to engage with the Indian authorities as they debate this important issue," it said.
Sibal also said the government would seek details like the domain name, place and origin of content and the platforms used to upload objectional material on social websites, adding that guidelines would be evolved to take action against the guilty.
Meanwhile, the minister accused the Internet firms for not providing information on the use of cyber space by suspected terrorist operatives.
"Sometimes, when data with respect to terrorists is sought in terms of email, there is hesitation to provide that data to us. Some of them have even moved courts," he said, adding that all stakeholders should be sensitive to the concerns of the communities in which they operate. — PTI
Sikh man stabbed at US airport, police rules out hate crime
WASHINGTON: A Sikh man traveling to India has been stabbed at an airport in California. The police, who subsequently arrested the assailant, has ruled out hate crime. The middle-aged man, whose name has not been released by the police, was treated for a quarter-inch stab wound in the upper torso at Fresno Yosemite International Airport, and chose to continue the first leg of his flight to India, a local newspaper reported yesterday. The assailant, a 26-year-old white man has been taken into custody, said Fresno City Police Department's Lt Don Gross.
Cong govt wins no-trust motion in Andhra Assembly
HYDERABAD: The Opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion against the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh was defeated by a huge margin in the state Assembly late Monday night. After over a 16-hour-long debate on the motion moved by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the House voted on the motion after 1 am. While 122 members supported the motion, 160 opposed it and one was neutral. Five members were absent during the voting.
Though 16 Congress legislators loyal to YSR Congress party leader Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy violated the whip to vote in favour of the motion, it was not enough to defeat the government. The ruling party has 153 members in 295-member House. The magic figure required to defeat the motion was 143 as there are seven vacancies in the House.
Kohli reprimanded for showing dissent
Ahmedabad: Indian batsman Virat Kohli has been reprimanded for breaching the ICC Code of Conduct by showing dissent to an umpire's decision after his dismissal in the third ODI against the West Indies in Ahmedabad.
"India batsman Virat Kohli has been reprimanded for breaching the ICC Code of Conduct during his team's ODI against the West Indies in Ahmedabad on Monday," the ICC said in a statement.
Kohli pleaded guilty to a Level 1 offence and accepted the proposed sanction from match referee David Boon after play concluded. He was found to have breached 2.1.3 of the code which relates to "showing dissent at an umpire's decision".
After being given out in the ninth over, the player stood his ground for a considerable time before eventually leaving the middle.
This was considered to be a show of dissent, a fact accepted by the player himself. As Kohli pleaded guilty and accepted the proposed sanction there was no need for a formal hearing.
The charge was brought by on-field umpires Tony Hill and Sudhir Asnani and third umpire Vineet Kulkarni.