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Following In Bing's Footsteps, Yahoo! and Flickr Censor Porn In India 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the searching-for-morality dept.
bhagwad writes "Following recent news on how Bing decided sex was too sensitive for India, Yahoo! and its associated site Flickr have decided to do the same. While it's true that this is because of India passing laws that prohibit the publication of porn, no complaint was ever launched (and never will be), and glorious Google still continues to return accurate and unbiased results. So why is Yahoo! doing this? Is it because of its tie-up with Bing? I assume this is the case. Indian ISPs have already told the government and the courts that it's not their job to restrict porn and it's technologically infeasible too. In the absence of a complaint, I can only assume that Yahoo! has decided to do this of their own volition. Given that the 'sex' search term is searched more in India than in any other country, isn't it the duty of Yahoo! to provide accurate results to its customers? It can always plausibly deny control of its results and claim that filtering porn is infeasible. Since Yahoo! already has a low search market share in India, this will drive it even lower."
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Following In Bing's Footsteps, Yahoo! and Flickr Censor Porn In India

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  • Heh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @12:19AM (#30590512) Journal
    Given that the 'sex' search term is searched more in India than in any other country... Based on population, I can only assume that India, at number 2 aspires to overtake China.

    Clearly, if you have to google "sex", you already know what it is.
  • Gone downhill... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by headkase (533448) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @12:23AM (#30590526)
    Remember when the Internet was all porn (1994)? Yeah, it's really gone downhill since then...
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @12:25AM (#30590534) Journal

    The whole subcontinent is littered with statues of stylized large-breasted women and phallic lingam. It seems a little odd to ban online porn, when sexuality lies at the heart of Hinduism (as it does for all the Indo-European religions).

  • by maxume (22995) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @12:27AM (#30590546)

    No no, the summary contains paranoid Microsoft bashing, not India bashing. Not to mention the hilarious part about filtering being infeasible (I guess it would sort of suck for Indians if search engines started returning only white-listed results, but it isn't exactly hard to think of a way to filter output that you control (but the end result might suck for the searcher).

  • Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by robvangelder (472838) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @12:29AM (#30590554)

    Didn't the Kama Sutra come out of India?

  • by fermion (181285) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @12:30AM (#30590558) Homepage Journal
    If I were a search engine desperately trying to gain market share in an environment dominated by a competitor, I might look for the largest growing open market, in this case India. I might accommodate some vagaries in hopes that a positive official recommendation might help my market share. If no school allows access to google, not even colleges, if no major corporate office allows access to google, if no government office allows access to google, then one can imagine that in a generation Google will be gone as a viable entity in India. And then there is the issue of Google having offices in India(I think they do), which means that Google will not be in compliance with the law.

    In this case, I don't see this as a 'Bing and Yahoo are bad' issue. If Google does not comply, that is business decision, just like Bing and Yahoo.

  • Re:Wait a minute (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mattventura (1408229) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @12:35AM (#30590592) Homepage
    You're implying that they somehow block every single search term related to porn. Guess what? Not only are there tons of slang terms for various things they haven't heard of, but even whole genres of porn that they can't block because they've never heard of. Sure, they can block most mainstream porn, but a lot of genre-specific porn would also apply to mainstream.
  • Re:Heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @12:36AM (#30590608) Homepage Journal
    Heh. I doubt it's entirely true that Indians search for sex more than everybody else, just that others are just more specific.

    Hypothetical example: for every Indian who looks up "sex", there are four Americans who each look up "fisting", "creampies", "MILFs", and "jailbait" :)
  • by 0ld_d0g (923931) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @12:54AM (#30590698)

    person I've completely had it with India and Indians dictating how to implement technology. F@#k'em!!!!

    A large percentage of the Indian population are poor illiterate farmers/village-folk. A very tiny percentage of their population (my guess is single digits) is online and most Indians I know would never support such policies. Most likely this is just their internal politics (similar to the abortion and LGBT posturing we have here) to appeal to the conservative populace. Heck they tell me some morons even tried to ban Valentines day as it imposes liberal "western" values ! (It didn't work)

  • Who is bhagwad? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @01:10AM (#30590766) Homepage

    Is bhagwad someone famous, or someone with particular insight into the Indian ISP situation, or someone who has some other qualification that would make it worth having most of the submission be his blithering speculation on the subject?

    It would be really nice of Slashdot were to hire some editors to actually edit the submissions.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @01:25AM (#30590826) Journal
    I suspect that the ban is simple prudery at work.

    However, I'd say that, rather than "seem[ing] a little odd", the connection between sexuality and Hinduism could arguably be a strong incentive for banning online porn.

    Consider, for example, the matter of medieval Catholicism and vernacular bibles. The whole continent is littered with churches full of stained glass depictions of biblical scenes, and the gospels lie at the heart of Catholicism, and yet, early vernacular translators got suppressed good and hard for their trouble. This was because the centrality of the bible to Catholic practice implied acceptance of it; but also implied an established order controlling its use, dissemination, and interpretation.

    Similarly, it could well be(arguing from principles, not direct anthropological evidence) that the long connection of sexuality with Hinduism means a certain acceptance of it; but almost certainly also means an established set of rules and practices concerning its use, allocation, and proper role. Pornography from all over the world, in any style you like, available swiftly and anonymously over the internet, likely stomps on the toes of at least a few of those rules and practices.
  • by Phroggy (441) <slashdot3.phroggy@com> on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @01:46AM (#30590892) Homepage

    isn't it the duty of Yahoo! to provide accurate results to its customers?

    You make the mistake of assuming that the users are the customers, rather than the product being sold.

  • by dhavleak (912889) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @01:46AM (#30590894)

    There shouldn't be any bashing at all in this article.

    .
    India is a democratic country -- their laws are by definition reflective of their social values. If they want porn cencored, they are within their rights to want it. I don't agree with it -- but it's their call. If at some point in the future there is a change in social attitudes towards porn in India, they can vote for a government that will change their laws accordingly.

    .
    If you want to bash anyone, bash Google for not respecting local laws -- but even that would be stretching it a bit.

  • by bnenning (58349) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @02:50AM (#30591120)

    It's entirely reasonable to criticize governments when they enact stupid policies, whether they're democratically elected or not. As I recall one or two foreign entities on occasion said less than complimentary things about the Bush administration; were they wrong to do so?

  • by elashish14 (1302231) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {4clacforp}> on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @03:19AM (#30591192)

    India is a democratic country -- their laws are by definition reflective of their social values.

    This is a fallacious correlation. Just because laws have been arrived at through a democratic process does not necessarily mean that they represent social values. There are much more important driving factors for legislation in a democracy than these social values. There are many ways (for example, lobbyists/bribery) that groups can influence democratic legislation, even in directions contrary to social values. The only possible government in which your ideals of democracy would be upheld would be one that's extremely limited socially so that no one's social values could be trampled upon.

    If they want porn cencored, they are within their rights to want it.

    I disagree with this. This is a case where your social values are at odds with personal liberties and just because such regulations would be arrived at through a democratic process doesn't mean that it's okay to take these liberties away. You could make the same case with racial segregation, where only a few really wanted to integrate, but the views of the majority democratically determined that segregation was legal and allowable. Another example could be gay marriage, where a majority is often against it, but since it is (arguably) within a gay couple's right to marry, these social values should not influence the democratic process to take their rights away.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @03:43AM (#30591260) Journal

    This is a case where your social values are at odds with personal liberties and just because such regulations would be arrived at through a democratic process doesn't mean that it's okay to take these liberties away.

    The thing here is, you are making a value judgement. You're also making a value judgement when you say that racial segregation is bad. I happen to agree with that judgement, but it is still a judgement. Who is there to say that your values are correct and some other person's values are incorrect? Unless we have absolute truth, we cannot know these things.

    You are confused about the point of democracy: it doesn't exist to protect what you consider to be liberties, it actually exists to avoid some of the problems we have with kings (violent regime changes), and to have government that roughly represents the will of the majority. It is hard living in a single place with a bunch of people: if you think about it, even living in a family is hard, and how many more people are there in a country? Democracy solves the problem better than anything else so far, but still if the majority decides to take away your personal liberties, they can because there are more of them than you. You may think it is 'wrong,' but once again that is a value judgement.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @04:49AM (#30591478)
    Just for laughs, type "removing" in google inda [google.co.in] and , and compare the google typing suggestions. [google.com]
  • It will never work (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bradbury (33372) <Robert,Bradbury&gmail,com> on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @05:33AM (#30591640) Homepage

    If one has a cultural framework in which on values males over females (in spite of the fact that India, at least from my reading of PBS programs, has a high respect for females). If you check the CIA World Factbook, regarding the "People" ratios it becomes fairly obvious. Sex selection is occurring in India taking place either by implicit or explicit actions (the most explicit actions being the clandestine abortion of female fetuses). If one has a sex selection process going on (and one could argue the same thing is taking place in China) then there is obviously going to be a demand for online "sex" information, esp. if one has rations involving 10's of millions of males with respect to females. And if you happen to think that constraining search engine results (presumably what the governments or the puritanical U.S. search engine providers might think) is going to constrain access then you fail to understand what outside of the box thinking of millions of individuals can accomplish. You cannot correct the problem by constraining internet access, you can can only correct it by changing the culture (a slow and difficult process, but one which the "west" has been through) or by changing the fundamental nature of human beings (clamping down on the natural desires to mate, etc.) which probably requires genetic engineering beyond our current capabilities.

    Thus complaining about this (at least from a "West"ern perspective) is pretty much of a no-op / noise). Complaining about this from an "East"ern perspective (India/China) (combined population 2+ billion people or 30+% of the world's population) simply gives the creative individuals information required to do what they do best (i.e. work around the "system"). I could within a few hours easily work up a Perl script which figures out which keywords are blocked and which are not and the best way around such systems. Until government officials learn that attempting to "censor" the thought paths of their populations is relatively pointless exercise in an internet world, then conversations like this one (at least in the "West"ern world are relatively pointless). The paths to change (where females and males are valued as equal) have to come from within the individual cultures.

  • by P0ltergeist333 (1473899) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @08:40AM (#30592242)

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." - The Declaration of Independence.

    Upon that very clear value statement America's founding fathers overthrew Colonial rule and founded what is still in-arguably, despite recent lapses, THE model for Democracy. They did not assert political or religious authority, as clearly evidenced by the very carefully chosen words 'their Creator.' The words 'We hold these truths to be self evident' are a clear indication that there are principles that transcend even a law that is 'democratically' implemented. In other words, tyranny that is implemented Democratically is still tyranny.

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