India asks Google, Facebook to screen user content

From NYT:

About six weeks ago, Mr. Sibal called legal representatives from the top Internet service providers and Facebook into his New Delhi office, said one of the executives who was briefed on the meeting.

At the meeting, Mr. Sibal showed attendees a Facebook page that maligned the Congress Party’s president, Sonia Gandhi. “This is unacceptable,” he told attendees, the executive said, and he asked them to find a way to monitor what is posted on their sites.

In the second meeting with the same executives in late November, Mr. Sibal told them that he expected them to use human beings to screen content, not technology, the executive said.

The three executives said Mr. Sibal has told these companies that he expects them to set up a proactive prescreening system, with staffers looking for objectionable content and deleting it before it is posted.

The executives said representatives from these companies 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. More:

Also in NYT:

‘Chilling’ impact of India’s April Internet rules

The most stringent government push came in April, when the “Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules 2011” were introduced. The rules require “intermediaries,” companies like Facebook, Google and Yahoo that provide the platform for users to comment and create their own content, to respond quickly if individuals complain that content is “disparaging” or “harassing,” among other complaints. If the complainant’s claim is valid, these companies must take down the offensive information within 36 hours.

So, what impact have these rules had so far?

A yet-to-be-published study by the Center for Internet and Society in Bangalore concludes that free speech on the Internet in India is already being curtailed in a “chilling” manner. More:

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