Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship Google Social Networks Politics

Google Sets Censorship Precedent In India 245

Posted by timothy
from the in-accordance-with-local-laws-and-privileges dept.
eldavojohn writes "Censorship varies from country to country but India, home to a sixth of the world's population, appears to be shaping up much like China. Not far behind everyone else, Google has increasingly censored websites with an incident where a very popular politician died and Google forcibly deleted and dissolved a group on Orkut where offensive comments about the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh were posted. An official from India's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology said, 'If you are doing business here, you should follow the local law, the sentiments of the people, the culture of the country. If somebody starts abusing Lord Rama on a Web site, that could start riots.' The lengthy opinion piece calls attention to the beginnings of a definitive lack of free speech online for Indian citizens. A spokeswoman for the 'Do No Evil' company explained, 'India does value free speech and political speech. But they are weighing the harm of free speech against violence in their streets.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Google Sets Censorship Precedent In India

Comments Filter:
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @02:34AM (#30629850)

    If somebody starts abusing Lord Rama on a Web site, that could start riots.

    Sounds like more of a culture problem than a Google problem there. I mean, is the west the only place where people can say "offensive" things without riots? And even then Islamic idiots try to kill them (look at the Danish cartoonist issue) when free speech is protected by law.

    India needs to address this problem themselves by increasing free speech, not by trying to shut it down.

  • contradiction much? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @02:42AM (#30629896) Journal

    'India does value free speech and political speech. But they are weighing the harm of free speech against violence in their streets.'"

    Translation: you can say *anything* you want as long as we approve of it. Censoring speech with which the government does not agree is completely incompatible with free speech.

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @02:43AM (#30629906)
    Such as....? Most of the alternative search engines simply use a Google scraper to remove the privacy issues and deny Google any revenue from you using it. Lets see, I'd hardly say MSN/Live/Bing are non-evil being owned by Microsoft who has done more harm than good to the tech world, Yahoo! censors just as much if not more than Google, and I'm not entirely sure if Ask does or not but even assuming it doesn't I can never find any relevant results using it. Most other smaller search engines are either too small to give you a decent web search or owned by a large company (like how Yahoo owns AltaVista)
  • Re:Free? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LostCluster (625375) * on Sunday January 03, 2010 @02:54AM (#30629978)

    It doesn't work here either. The US runs to the WTO whenever there's a problem with other places violating the rules of "free trade", but in the Internet Gambling case team USA lost by being told that international sites should be allowed to offer gambling services... yet the USA has ignored that ruling, setting the precedent that other countries can just ignore decisions they don't agree with.

    "Free trade" has become another meaningless political phrase... next please.

  • by BikeHelmet (1437881) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @03:08AM (#30630056) Journal

    Sounds like more of a culture problem than a Google problem there. I mean, is the west the only place where people can say "offensive" things without riots? And even then Islamic idiots try to kill them (look at the Danish cartoonist issue) when free speech is protected by law.

    What are you talking about?

    If I go into a large crowd somewhere in the US and start shouting that you guys deserved 9/11 for your arrogance, not only am I likely to start a riot - I'm also likely to get beaten to death or shot.

    Methinks your perception is a bit off. If you're going to go insinuating that other cultures or countries are inferior, you should at least examine similar situations. And surprise surprise - everyone behaves similarly when the situations have the same meaning to individual people.

    Countdown to troll mod... 5...4...3...2...1

  • by Morgaine (4316) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @03:08AM (#30630058)

    Trying to accommodate the demands of each foreign country's governments on a case-by-case basis in order to do business in their countries is an extremely dangerous game to play. You can rationalize away small losses of freedom as "fitting in with national conditions", but there is nothing to stop "fitting in" going all the way to directly supporting dictatorships and the worst kind of abuses of human rights.

    When you don't have fixed principles, you have no principles at all.

    Some will say "Google does have a fixed principle: to make money." The trouble is, that is not a principle about human rights, it's a principle that expressly allows human rights to be negotiated away. In effect, it's a principle to do evil against people in order to do well for profits.

    Google needs to get its head sorted out before this starts to go really bad. Because it will.

  • I do not think that Hinduism is at fault here. I have read quite a bit of books on Hinduism, and I dont remember seeing anywhere clauses that other religions should not exist or that people should fight if somebody blasphemes. It is mostly people with vested interests that ferment trouble. For example, right wing political parties trying to increase xenophobia for getting more votes for the next election, or not so nice religious leaders trying to increase their clout etc has very good motivation in inciting riots.

    What I have seen is that this is indeed the case in almost all religions. More than anything, it is the human development index which specifically shows through in such cases. Where HDI is low, people are more discontent and it is easy to channel their discontent to anger by rabble rousing. In most countries it is the same. If you were to look at countries with high HDI and literacy, people does not take to streets for such issues. People there has more to lose and also they have more channels of information and understanding which makes such people more understanding. Even inside India, states like Kerala has very high HDI - close to that of developed nations - and riots happen very rarely there.

    I think it has nothing to do with Christianity or Hinduism or anything. Also, regarding the quote

    it is India's fault for letting this crap happen

    , I quite disagree with your point. India, even though growing, has quite a bit of people with a lot of discontent. I have seen that Indians do care quite a bit for freedom - in both speech and action. In such a country, there will be many who will incite people, and riots do happen. If it was more like China, then freedom of speech is a little more curtailed, and rabble rousers wont have such a free rein. So, Indian government does not have any other option to block communication channels to avoid these speeches becoming more widespread and cause more deaths.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 03, 2010 @03:28AM (#30630136)

    Sounds like more of a culture problem than a Google problem there. I mean, is the west the only place where people can say "offensive" things without riots? And even then Islamic idiots try to kill them (look at the Danish cartoonist issue) when free speech is protected by law.

    What are you talking about?

    If I go into a large crowd somewhere in the US and start shouting that you guys deserved 9/11 for your arrogance, not only am I likely to start a riot - I'm also likely to get beaten to death or shot.

    Methinks your perception is a bit off. If you're going to go insinuating that other cultures or countries are inferior, you should at least examine similar situations. And surprise surprise - everyone behaves similarly when the situations have the same meaning to individual people.

    Countdown to troll mod... 5...4...3...2...1

    90% likeliness would be that you would be ignored.
    5% that a cop arrests you for disorderly conduct (for yelling at a crowd)
    5% that an asshole starts a fight or suckerpunches you (and probably gets arrested for it)
    0% that someone pulls a gun or a riot starts

    There have not been many riots in US history, but generally they are started for a reason (such as the shooting of war protesters or racial injustices). You aren't going to start a riot about 9/11. Nobody really cares about it anymore. You need a lot of emotion to start a riot, and it simply doesn't exist in the US at this point in time. The last time the necessary amount of emotional energy existed in the US was after Katrina, but luckily nobody lit the match to start riots.

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @03:29AM (#30630140)

    I do not think that Hinduism is at fault here. I have read quite a bit of books on Hinduism, and I dont remember seeing anywhere clauses that other religions should not exist or that people should fight if somebody blasphemes. It is mostly people with vested interests that ferment trouble. For example, right wing political parties trying to increase xenophobia for getting more votes for the next election, or not so nice religious leaders trying to increase their clout etc has very good motivation in inciting riots.

    Yes, I didn't think that Hinduism would be that violent either, but the quote in the summary from India's ministry of technology did make it seem that it was a typical occurrence. Of course, subtleties in the phrase may have been lost during translation.

    , I quite disagree with your point. India, even though growing, has quite a bit of people with a lot of discontent. I have seen that Indians do care quite a bit for freedom - in both speech and action. In such a country, there will be many who will incite people, and riots do happen. If it was more like China, then freedom of speech is a little more curtailed, and rabble rousers wont have such a free rein. So, Indian government does not have any other option to block communication channels to avoid these speeches becoming more widespread and cause more deaths.

    However, was it not the United State's government's job to increase tolerance of black people after the American Civil War? It is the Indian government's responsibility to control its population without resorting to censorship. Especially not censorship of this type. There is a difference between not letting someone go on a government owned radio station saying this and allowing access to information to what Indian people have searched for. Theres a difference between a discussion group and a giant neon sign in the middle of a road.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 03, 2010 @03:31AM (#30630152)

    ...where information passes freely from one person to another without the constant threat of jackboots and lawyers?

  • Re:Free? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @03:43AM (#30630208)

    What makes you think the citizens will act on their knowledge and fight censorship?

    People don't want to be oppressed. Look at what happened to countries in the iron curtain. Their economy fell apart, people wanted civil rights, they protested and an oppressive government fell.

    In many countries the majority of the population wants certain topics censored.

    Eventually though, an enlightenment happens. In most of the western world it happened during the 18th century enlightenment period lead by people such as Voltaire. In the aftermath of World War I, people, indoctrinated with mass media threw aside enlightenment for nationalism which eventually lead to World War II and the Cold War. Now we are in another age of enlightenment for the western world. Perhaps the eastern world will have a similar enlightenment.

    If the USA didn't have the 1st Amendment, I doubt we'd have such free speech.

    Of course not, and if it wasn't for the bill of rights chances are we'd have no rights.

    I mean, the religious types managed to get alcohol banned for 13 years.

    ...Which was also banned in some parts of Europe, Canada, and Russia for during the same times. Alcohol was the pot of today, it was blamed for everything. Eventually reason prevailed and they unbanned it. Chances are, once governments start looking at the scientific evidence, we will look at a number of substances and wonder what in the world we were thinking when we banned them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 03, 2010 @04:07AM (#30630290)

    YSR, the politician in question was a Christian.

  • by paulkoan (769542) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @04:10AM (#30630302) Homepage Journal

    If your nation is so on the verge of rioting that some commentary on a website is all that is required as a trigger, further removal of civil liberties may not be the best course of action.

  • by evilviper (135110) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @05:39AM (#30630572) Journal

    But the problem wasn't that we stopped enforcing anti-trust acts, it was that we deliberately -helped- the monopolies and harmed the general public with such rulings as software patents, the DMCA, etc.

    Wrong. The DMCA and software patents certainly don't help matters, but that has nothing to do with the banking collapse (both of them...), the monopolization of the news media, the free reign of large corporations, etc. None of this is cause by active government interference, but rather, by the government ceding it's responsibility to regulate.

    Wal-Mart is a monopoly not because of government intervention or lack of the ability to compete, Wal-Mart is simply willing to take risks and deliver what the masses want.

    Wal-Mart's good PR, able to bring in shoppers with a whopping 12 cent discount was what got them into this position, but Wal-Mart is a monopoly today because its vast size has become self-sustaining. They can dictate prices and terms to their suppliers, and if they aren't happy, that disagreement may well single-handedly drive your company out of business.

    The information was high quality if you wanted one group's opinion, yes.

    Bull. The news media was much better at unbiased reporting in the past. Today, it's largely a token quote from both sides (no matter how factually incorrect one side's statement may be), and then back to whatever spin was desired...

    There are only a few examples of propaganda you can possibly come up with, and it's a lousy comparison because such circumstances just don't exist today. There is no more Soviet Union, so we don't need the propaganda anymore. If you want to talk about modern wars, try comparing the news coverage of Vietnam and tell me we've got it so much better today...

    More like an editorial, they may use strong opinions to make some people convinced it is fact, but in the end it is all an editorial.

    Blatantly lying and distorting facts is NOT editorial. If it was, then you could can hide ANYTHING behind that label, with impunity.

    Because of this, unworkable or plain stupid opinions are lost in the shuffle usually and only the bright ones stand out

    That's completely baseless. There's nothing in existence to do this incredible job at filtering out the crap from the cream. With no filtering, it's he who yells the loudest, and that's what we see today... which explains Fox News quite succinctly.

  • Re:Free? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by h4rm0ny (722443) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @06:08AM (#30630656) Journal

    In many countries the majority of the population wants certain topics censored

    You don't need to censor that which people voluntarily reject or have no interest in. You censor that which people might be interested in seeing but which doesn't suit your purposes.

    Quotes like this guy's "we should respect the laws of local countries" I don't agree with. Laws != Ethics. The correct extension of the principle of respecting other's values is "we should respect the wishes of the people of local countries". The people are not synonymous with their government and the more a government censors information from the people, the less synonymous with that government they are likely to be and the less reason we have to follow the dictates of a government that claims to represent them.

    If information is uncensored, then people can choose to look at it / read it / think about it or not. If information is censored then they have only one option. Given that being able to choose the better option out of two functionally subsumes only having one of those choices without cost, then the logically better option is not to censor things.

  • by aerograMMer (996600) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @06:41AM (#30630770) Homepage

    I don't think it's only about the money here. Having been through a mini-riot in India, when public goes beserk on the streets it's not a pretty sight, people die. Whoever incited the riots, whatever the rioters' reasons, right or wrong, I feel the government's aim here is to quell dissent that can bring life to a standstill or worse, lead of loss of life. There's not much cops can do when 1000s of mindless drones hit the street with the single-minded objective of practicing acupuncture with knives on anything that breathes. During such sprees, cows are spared, but I digress. Psychological trauma on society following such incidents, predominantly religion-related, last for decades. In certain regions in India, there is an uneasy peace between people of different faiths and taboo (read religious) topics have the potential to rip that apart. From this perspective, I understand Google/government insight into local behavior and respect their decision to respect local sentiments in spirit and act.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 03, 2010 @07:44AM (#30630956)

    How come when some other country forces Google, Apple, whatever, to do something and they trot out the "we're just following the laws of the land" excuse, yet when they have to follow some law here they have no problem fighting it legally? Why don't they just "follow the laws of the USA" as blindly as they do in Yellow China, etc.?

  • Re:Free? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by unity100 (970058) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @08:16AM (#30631020) Homepage Journal

    People don't want to be oppressed. Look at what happened to countries in the iron curtain. Their economy fell apart, people wanted civil rights, they protested and an oppressive government fell.

    that was europe. it has a different culture. it is not happening in other parts of the world. see china. indonesia. see india. see turkey. people are going for more extreme.

  • Transfer of Guilt (Score:3, Interesting)

    by b4upoo (166390) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @08:29AM (#30631046)

    Here we have an official who is in essence shifting blame to the unwashed masses. If he does not censor then the wretches will riot. History teaches the opposite. When censorship exists the masses may very well go into total riot and revolt.
                    I do wonder if people in the US knew a few things that are hushed up if they would not riot in the streets.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @10:25AM (#30631490) Homepage Journal

    despite not being kept poor, at least 30 to 40% of people in turkey are striving for a strict islamic society. another 20 to 30% of them are looking for a stricter, conservative society. dont need to tell you that all these come with considerably less freedoms. these people are making heaps of money via 'islamic' corporations engaging in manufacturing and trade. yet, they are still striving for such a hardliner life.

    the most ironic part is that what fuels and enables their enrichment and radicalism has been the unregulated free market conditions pressured onto turkey by the united states republican governments through supporting right wing political parties here.

HELP!!!! I'm being held prisoner in /usr/games/lib!

Working...