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Indian censorship of social networks: Google, Facebook, and others on trial

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Google, Facebook, and a number of other websites are being targeted by the Indian government over their responsibility for user-posted content on their sites. The social networks claim that it is unfeasible for them to monitor everything that gets posted by their users, and that if content is reported as inappropriate they are quick to respond. However, criminal cases have been brought — notably by journalist Vinay Rai — against the sites, saying that the companies are not meeting their responsibilities.Follow the whole story right here.

  • Jamie Keene

    Mar 13, 2012

    Jamie Keene

    Google and Facebook trial in Indian censorship case begins today

    The firms say that the regulations are incompatible with India's Information Technology Act 2008, which should protect them from liability where user-posted material is concerned. It has also been claimed that the material Rai is citing has not been flagged as inappropriate in many cases, making it impossible for the networks to filter the content. The companies allege that Rai has complained directly to the government, rather than reporting the content to them in the first instance. Both Facebook and Google have previously removed content that has been flagged.

    Civil liberties campaigners have described the case as a crackdown on free speech, while others have called upon sites to proactively monitor all content that is posted by their users. Other similar complaints are also being brought against the networks, though both Google and Facebook have petitioned the courts to dismiss the case. If the companies are found guilty, it's possible that some executives could face jail time and the firms involved hit with hefty fines.

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  • Tom Warren

    Feb 6, 2012

    Tom Warren

    Facebook and Google forced to remove content deemed offensive in India


    Facebook and Google have both been forced to remove content following a court directive in India. The two companies have removed material from their Indian domains that was considered offensive to Hindus, Muslims and Christians, after a court in New Delhi ruled today that certain images were deemed objectionable. Google confirmed it had disabled some content from its Indian versions of search, YouTube and Blogger, but refused to detail the content involved. Facebook has not issued a comment on its content removal.

    The issue has raised the question of censorship in India as the lawsuit demands that internet companies screen content before it is posted. 19 other companies have also been accused of violating Indian laws in the same case, after the country passed a law last year making web companies responsible for user-posted content. Most websites remain uncensored despite the rules, and the internet firms involved argue that they are not responsible for "obscene, objectionable, and defamatory" content. Nevertheless, a lower court in New Delhi has informed the companies that they must detail how they have blocked offensive content within 15 days.

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  • T.C. Sottek

    Jan 16, 2012

    T.C. Sottek

    Google and Facebook challenge Indian courts over web censorship lawsuits

    India Censorship
    India Censorship

    India's the most populous democracy in the world, but it's no stranger to censorship efforts — over the years, it's struggled with balancing free expression and quelling partisan violence. Now, India's courts are considering web censorship measures in response to lawsuits over obscene material (like controversial religious statements) on websites like Google and Facebook. But the web giants aren't sitting quietly: as The Times of India reports, Google India's advocate told the Delhi high court today that blocking websites is not an option, since India is not a "totalitarian" regime like China.

    India permits the restriction of content that's prejudicial, that is thought to instigate hatred between different groups, or that "threatens national integrity." Censorship is thus a troublesome cultural issue, since for some Indians, the question may conjure thoughts about something like shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre. As Firstpost India reports, Vinay Rai, a journalist who initiated one of the lawsuits, claims that "freedom of speech does not mean you can show whatever you want... do not attack any religion. Insulting religion means instigating riots."

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