Google, Facebook remove content on India's order

Feb 06, 2012 By KATY DAIGLE , Associated Press

Google India has removed web pages deemed offensive to Indian political and religious leaders to comply with a court case that has raised censorship fears in the world's largest democracy, media reported Monday.

The action follows weeks of intense government pressure for 22 Internet giants to remove photographs, videos or text considered "anti-religious" or "anti-social."

A New Delhi court Monday gave Facebook, , and Blogspot and the other sites two weeks to present further plans for policing their networks, according to the Press Trust of India.

For India's more than 100 million Internet users, the government says, U.S. Internet standards are not acceptable.

The case highlights the difficulty India faces in balancing conservative religious and political sentiments with its hope that freewheeling Internet discourse and technology will help spur the economy and boost living standards for its 1.2 billion people.

Google India did not say Monday which sites were removed but had said it would be willing to go after anything that violated local law or its own standards.

Indian officials have been incensed by material insulting to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, ruling Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi and religious groups, including illustrations showing Singh and Gandhi in compromising positions and pigs running through Mecca, Islam's holiest city.

"There is no question of any censorship," Communications Minister Sachin Pilot said in Bangalore. "They all have to operate within the laws of the country. ... There must be responsible behavior on both sides."

Anyone hurt by online content should be able to seek legal redress, he said. The government has warned it has evidence to prosecute 21 sites for offenses of "promoting enmity between classes and causing prejudice to national integration."

The government has asked the sites to set a voluntary framework to keep offensive material off the Internet.

India submitted a compliance report to the court Monday, but it also joined Yahoo and Microsoft in questioning its inclusion in the case, saying no specific complaints had been presented against them, PTI reported. The sites did not immediately comment after the hearing.

Prosecutors, who sued on behalf of a Muslim religious leader who accused companies of hosting pages that disparage Islam, said they would provide the companies with all relevant documents. The court gave the companies 15 more days to report back.

India is Facebook's third-fastest growing market, after the U.S. and Indonesia. The California-based company, with $3.7 billion in revenues last year, has seen its hoped-for launch in China held back by rules requiring censorship of material seen by the Chinese government as objectionable or obscene.

The issue of country-specific censorship sparked global outcry in recent weeks, after Twitter said it would allow tweets to be deleted in countries where the content breaks local law.

Twitter insisted the new policy would help freedom of expression and transparency by preventing the entire site from being blocked. But dissidents and activists who have embraced Twitter in their campaigns accused the site of betraying free speech.

Explore further: Britain's UKIP issues online rules after gaffes

5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Local Indian court summons Google, Yahoo!: report

Dec 23, 2011

An Indian magistrates court has issued a summons to 21 internet sites, including Facebook, Google and Yahoo! to answer charges of circulating "obscene, lascivious content," a report said Friday.

India to ban 'offensive' Internet material

Dec 06, 2011

India on Tuesday vowed to ban offensive material from the Internet after Facebook, Google and other major firms told the government they were unable to screen content before it was posted.

India bid to censor Internet draws flak

Dec 09, 2011

Indian government efforts to block offensive material from the Internet have prompted a storm of online ridicule along with warnings of the risk to India's image as a bastion of free speech.

Thailand welcomes Twitter censorship tool

Jan 30, 2012

Thailand, which regularly cracks down on Internet content deemed critical of its revered monarchy, on Monday welcomed social media giant Twitter's controversial new censorship policy.

Recommended for you

Britain's UKIP issues online rules after gaffes

15 hours ago

UK Independence Party (UKIP), the British anti-European Union party, has ordered a crackdown on the use of social media by supporters and members following a series of controversies.

Sony saga blends foreign intrigue, star wattage

15 hours ago

The hackers who hit Sony Pictures Entertainment days before Thanksgiving crippled the network, stole gigabytes of data and spilled into public view unreleased films and reams of private and sometimes embarrassing ...

Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

Dec 18, 2014

The detective work blaming North Korea for the Sony hacker break-in appears so far to be largely circumstantial, The Associated Press has learned. The dramatic conclusion of a Korean role is based on subtle ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Vendicar_Decarian
Feb 06, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
jwood255
5 / 5 (1) Feb 06, 2012
What if I find religion itself offensive? Can we censor the radicals? Thanks Facebook! /sarcasm
NotAsleep
5 / 5 (2) Feb 06, 2012
Remember that time Google refused to censor their search results in China?

http://articles.b...googlecn

I'm curious what their reasoning is for censoring one country and not the other ($$$)
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (1) Feb 08, 2012
The domestication of man continues.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.