India Set To Bring Heavy Hand Of Censorship Down On Facebook, Google

According to Indian site NDTV a top Indian court said that Google and Facebook could be entirely blocked in the country unless they come up with a way to selectively censor or remove images and content that India’s government deems offensive. This is pursuant to a recently enacted law aimed at blocking or removing “offensive” or “objectionable” content from the internet in India.

The problem is that the Indian law includes a a long list of concepts and content restrictions that are so broad and vague as to make enforcement a nightmare:

[A]nything that is “harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, blasphemous, defamatory, pornographic, libelous, invasive of another’s privacy, hateful, disparaging, racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable, relating to money laundering or gambling.”

The law would also make websites potentially liable for the acts of individual users and third parties over which they have little or no control. Apparently there is law in India intended to protect websites from liability where they had no hand in producing the offensive or objectionable material. But these two statutes would appear to be in direct conflict.

Further hearings are scheduled and the matter is not fully resolved. So a compromise could still theoretically be reached.

This is yet another example of the “culture of the internet” and free flow of information online colliding with the culture and mores of an individual country. In this context India is much more aligned with China than Western Europe or Canada and the US.

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • Dharma Republic

    IT SHOULD BE censored, to give children a balanced approach to growing up, and not led down a sexually depraved existance, with a shallow cheap materialistic culture, where children are bullied, and abused for not looking the correct way or fitting in. The internet should allow, fun, free access to proper information, allowing creative ideas to exist that BENEFIT others. SEX exists without the internet, without porn. To deal with the current rise in depression, and suicide, we need a caring society not one with a sole aim of maximising profits, because that means short cuts, in material, in morals, and ethics.

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