Dear Kapil Sibal, No software can prescreen Sarcasm!
KAPIL Sibal’s efforts to pre-screen content on social networking sites sparked off a sprightly debate on the very sites the minister appeared intent to muzzle.
While some invoked Voltaire’s “I do not agree with a word you say but I will defend to death your right to say it”, others protested that “no right is unbridled”. The telecom minister, wanting to play the Big Brother, had asked Google, Yahoo, MSN and Facebook to pre-screen objectionable material against politicians and religious communities.
Threatening to ban “offensive material” appearing on the social network sites, he warned: “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”. Matters came to a head after offensive material against Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was uploaded on the net.
At a hurriedly called press conference the minister said, “My aim is that insulting material should never get uploaded.” Sibal claimed he was against any sort of censorship but some material posted on Internet was so offensive that it was just not acceptable. He pointed out that the internet firms have not yet taken off the objectionable material despite repeated reminders and meetings with them.
He said, “This government does not believe in either directly or indirectly interfering in the freedom of the press. 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.
We have told them that this can’t go on.” The government’s thinking seems to be that social media should have self- regulation just like the print and broadcast media have.
They will have to give us the data, where these images are being uploaded and who is doing it. We will evolve guidelines and mechanisms to deal with the issue,” Sibal said.
The picture that emerged at the end of the day was not pretty.
Outburst on Social Networking Sites!
ClownPrinceG: I just sent an email to Kapil Sibal seeking his permission to talk to my girlfriend about some private things.
SatanBhagat: When Kapil Sibal said he backed the FDI, no one knew that he actually meant ‘Facebook Details Investigation’.
beastoftraal: India Asks Google, Facebook to Screen User Content. What does Kapil Sibal think he’s running here? A boarding school?
TheRohanJoshi: Kapil Sibal wants to monitor Facebook because he saw a Sonia page he didn’t like. I also have a page. Please like it.
ISayChaps: Kapil Sibal made such a statement only after checking that Harvinder Singh is still in police custody.
advanirajesh: I have an idea for Kapil Sibal. Instead of completely censoring the content, he should think of giving certificates like ‘U’, ‘A’ and ‘U/A’.
AmitRajak: The next task Kapil Sibal is going to undertake is to enumerate the grammatical errors in a Chetan Bhagat novel.
ItsJyoti: All Facebook posts to have “Kapil Sibal likes this” by default.
harguneet: Looks like Kapil Sibal has got the wrong target audience here. Do not mess with the few educated and empowered people in India.
manan: Kapil Sibal has lost the collective respect of the Internet. It’s a sad day to be the IT minister of India.
stupidusmaximus: Maybe Kapil Sibal will back off if we agree to rename the internet as ‘Shrimati Sonia Gandhi Antarrashtriya’
Pavan Duggal, a cyber law expert, said this is a misplaced debate and in misplaced direction. “It is humanly not possible monitor all the internet content. Lakhs of messages and tweets emerge from India every day. If there is any suspicion on one then it makes sense to monitor it. But otherwise it is a blatant violation of the freedom of speech,” Duggal said.
“What Kapil Sibal argues is illegal and completely unconstitutional. Pre-censorship of user contents on social internet sites is unethical and Indian government is trying to adopt a China-like use of internet,” said Anivar Aravind, IT consultant and commentator.
Another expert Sunil Abraham, executive director, Centre for Internet & Society, said, “It’s hard to believe a person like Sibal is talking about such steps.”