India's Unworkable Plan to Censor Facebook

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As the United States considers its own measures to block illegal websites, India's government is pulling a China and asking Internet companies like Facebook and Google to start screening all user generated content. The censorship measures requested by the Indian government -- "to remove disparaging, inflammatory or defamatory content before it goes online" -- do resemble China's firewall, based on the so far vague details of the plan reported in  The New York Times's India Ink blog on Monday morning. However, the companies affected also say it's out of the question.

India's proposed site-screening sounds rather unworkable. Apparently, it all started six months ago, when India's acting telecommunications minister Kapil Sibal told government officials that disparaging comments on the Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi's Facebook page were "unacceptable" and eventually asked executives from Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo "to set up a proactive prescreening system, with staffers looking for objectionable content and deleting it before it is posted." India Ink's Heather Timmons explains that the companies' representatives "will tell Mr. Sibal at the meeting on Monday that his demand is impossible, given the volume of user-generated content coming from India, and that they cannot be responsible for determining what is and isn't defamatory or disparaging." And the volume must be huge; Facebook alone  has 25 million users in India.

Read the full story at The Atlantic Wire.

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