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India Moves To Censor Social Media 171

Posted by Soulskill
from the one-point-two-billion-people-dislike-this dept.
An anonymous reader writes "India's Telecoms minister has prompted an uproar after it was revealed he met with executives from Google and Facebook to pressure them into screening 'objectionable' content. Critics argue it is a dangerous step down China's censorship path. 'He denied such a demand was censorship. There is some content on the Internet that "any normal human being would be offended by," he said. The government has asked social media companies to develop a way to eliminate offensive content as soon as it is created, no matter what country it is created in, he said.'
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India Moves To Censor Social Media

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  • But it fails (Score:2, Insightful)

    by roman_mir (125474)

    The real story is this: India Moves TO Censor Social Media ... but it fails in the face of /. dupes./a. [slashdot.org]

  • by unity100 (970058) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @07:56PM (#38286394) Homepage Journal
    The only route that is left to us at this point. in all countries, around entire world. we the people should just ignore those would-be controllers.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I like the idea, but in general I think the kiddie-porn card trumps it. In a poll on the Swedish (arguably one of the countries where the dislike of censorship is strongest) hardware site Sweclockers (http://www.sweclockers.com/nyhet/14807-telia-filtrerar-internet-for-att-blockera-barnporr) 44% thinks "filtering" the internet for kiddie porn is a good course of action, while merely 39% see it for the counter-productive slippery slope that it is.

      If kiddie porn is such a strong argument for censorship in Swed

    • by gmhowell (26755)

      Feh. What would an Indian know about Civil Disobedience?

  • What will all those Indian FB and +1 social media spammers do when they are suddenly out of work?
  • Silencing Dissent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Das Auge (597142) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @08:01PM (#38286450)
    Silencing dissent... Yet another American "job" getting outsourced.

    I jest, but it's not like the US (where I was born and live) hasn't tried this sort of thing. The Internet kill switch, taking down sites without due process, and the need to filter the whole country.

    This sort of shit needs to stop. Which will only happen when the government is "for the people" again, and not "for the corporations."
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      He's already getting hit with a lot of backlash: #IdiotKapilSibal [twitter.com]
      This move by India probably has a lot to do with this summer's online anger over government corruption that eventually
      morphed into real world protests and forced the Indian Government to pass anti-corruption laws to placate the people.

      It's part of India's long term goal to be able to track and silence those they consider trouble makers and rabble rousers.

      • by wdef (1050680)
        The good news is this: with rapid economic development and relatively high birth rates (I think?), India has a youth culture boom on its hands. With luck, India will develop a mass counterculture of dissatisfied youth who will in effect say "Fuck that shit". I did say "with luck".
    • As a professional IT consultant, I feel I must disagree with you.

      You joke, but you bring up a serious point that supports the idea that America continues to be a world innovator--"silencing dissent", as you so aptly put it, just happens to be the next natural step toward technological progress. It is merely a step back in order to take take two steps forward; that is, if the American people wish it to be so. Many seem content with a "not in my backyard" philosophy.

      I gladly welcome "this sort of shit"
      • by wdef (1050680) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @09:15PM (#38287026)

        .. maybe one day they'll come to their own senses of whether or not they enjoy freedoms when accessing networks ...

        I cite the boiling frog meme. This is not the way to defend freedoms. If people sit around letting it happen, they will awake ome day as slaves.

        • Re:Silencing Dissent (Score:4, Interesting)

          by bky1701 (979071) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @11:12PM (#38287638) Homepage
          Frog boiling applies poorly to politics. People's expectations of freedom slowly increase. That's why surfdom, absolute monarchy, and slavery are no longer acceptable. I am quite certain that our current control-oriented mindset is temporary. Eventually, it will become intolerable (we're already nearing it), and the result will be greater freedom overall than before. That process might be avoidable, but history suggests oppression comes slowly, and freedom comes in greater bursts.

          There is another meme that applies: to make an omelet, you need to break a few eggs.
          • by Kjella (173770)

            Yes, but in the past oppressing a population has required help from large parts of the population. It's estimated that STASI employed 2.5% of the population and that possibly as much as 7% were regular and 25-30% occasional informers. Today you can put computers on the job, they track every call, every webpage, every cash transaction, analyze, mine, build patterns and dossiers. Almost all advanced weapon systems now come with IFF codes and remote kill switches, even if you could convince parts of the milita

          • by wdef (1050680)

            People's expectations of freedom slowly increase

            But increase over what tiny timeline - the last few hundred years? That's a blink of the eye in human history, not a sample you can use to make predictions about something as volatile as freedom.

            That's why surfdom, absolute monarchy, and slavery are no longer acceptable.

            Who said these are no longer "acceptable'? Acceptability is only relevant (a) where people care, and (b) if something is recognized to be what it actually is. All three of these either overtly exist or have just changed form into something less obviously tyrannical. Granted, it is still an overall improvement. Bu

    • The government has asked social media companies to develop a way to eliminate offensive content as soon as it is created, no matter what country it is created in, he said.

      You'll notice, he said to "eliminate", not filter.

      Call me paranoid, but I think that's a not-so-subtle death threat directed at Richard Gere [msn.com].

  • Typical politician (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msobkow (48369) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @08:03PM (#38286474) Homepage Journal

    Mr. Sibal also said there were images of Congress party personnel that were ‘ex facie objectionable.’”

    Unfortunately a politician's view of "objectionable" is usually what the general population of their countries calls "political satire" or a "joke".

    Which isn't surprising, seeing as these kind of censorship attempts are a joke in and of themselves.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I've been saying that about the Holocaust (in Europe) for a long time.

    • by subreality (157447) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @09:07PM (#38286990)

      I'm not sure it's done for self-serving reasons, but it's bullshit either way:

      There is some content on the Internet that "any normal human being would be offended by,"

      I don't think I could write a better one-sentence example of institutional conformism. "Normal human beings" are a myth, and even if such a thing existed, they have no inherent right to censor the abnormal ones. Almost everyone can be offended by the words of another sane, sincere human being.

      Can I claim to be a normal human being who is offended by this proposal? Perhaps HE should be censored.

      • by jc42 (318812)

        There is some content on the Internet that "any normal human being would be offended by,"

        I don't think I could write a better one-sentence example of institutional conformism. "Normal human beings" are a myth, ...

        Nah; you just have to understand something that he left out: his definition of a "normal human being", which is "anyone who agrees with me".

        Note that, by this definition, there exists at least one normal human being: Mr. Sibal himself.

        And, in a bit of recursion, we might note that the above definition of "normal" is in fact the normal definition used by most people. So when I talk about normal people, we also know that there is at least one person who fits my definition.

        Can I claim to be a normal human being who is offended by this proposal? Perhaps HE should be censored.

        Certainly you can, and he sho

    • Mr. Sibal also said there were images of Congress party personnel that were ‘ex facie objectionable.’”

      Unfortunately a politician's view of "objectionable" is usually what the general population of their countries calls "political satire" or a "joke".

      Which isn't surprising, seeing as these kind of censorship attempts are a joke in and of themselves.

      Context: I am a British national living in India.

      I once showed an episode of UK panel show "Have I got News for You" to some of my Indian friends. They found it hilarious, but at the same time were also a little uncomfortable with - if not genuinely shocked by - the content.

      When I asked about their reaction they explained that Indian culture, for better or worse, revolves around respect for authority figures. Whether that's your parents, your boss, your elders or political leaders, it is what is

      • by Zebedeu (739988)

        The public ridicule of the prime minister is more-or-less unthinkable, and would be widely condemned, possibly in a very ugly manner.

        If that's the case, then why make such laws?
        If someone tries to ridicule authority figures, they'll feel the backlash from the public itself, without the need for the government to be authoritarian.

  • by kawabago (551139) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @08:07PM (#38286518)
    Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me unless I'm China or India. How long do these countries have to be civilized before they develop enough confidence to withstand an insult? What are we at now, 5,000 years, 8,000 years and they still can't take a few unkind words? Maybe they should think about starting again, from scratch. Scratching in the dirt with a stick, to plant some food that is, right back to the beginning.
  • Apparently, all the smart Indians have already emigrated.

  • Offensive content? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @08:13PM (#38286572) Homepage

    There is some content on the Internet that "any normal human being would be offended by," he said.

    I can't say I've ever seen content that I was offended by, aside from something directed at me personally, and I certainly can't think of any content that every normal human being would be offended by. Disgusted, sure. Saddened, disappointed, startled, but not offended.

    • Good point. If a piece of content was universally offensive then it would never be created because the authors of the content would be offended by the idea and not manifest it into reality.
    • by H0p313ss (811249)

      There is some content on the Internet that "any normal human being would be offended by," he said.

      I can't say I've ever seen content that I was offended by, aside from something directed at me personally, and I certainly can't think of any content that every normal human being would be offended by. Disgusted, sure. Saddened, disappointed, startled, but not offended.

      I'm offended by censorship.

    • by alexo (9335)

      Plainly, Mr. Sibal has the best interests of India at heart but, unfortunately, he stopped short of the logical conclusion.

      As evident from the fact that "there is some content on the Internet that any normal human being would be offended by", those that are not offended by it are clearly abnormal and have to to be dealt with accordingly. While euthanasia would be the preferred course of action, it could cause logistical problems, as well as adversely affect international relations. Therefore I suggest a t

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @08:16PM (#38286590) Journal

    ..any normal human being

    And who, exactly, gets to decide what a "normal" human being is, and what this mythical alleged "normal" human being would consider "offensive" or "non-offensive"? What's next for this jackass? Is he going to "decide" what is and is not art? *facepalm*

    • by jesseck (942036) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @08:25PM (#38286670)

      And who, exactly, gets to decide what a "normal" human being is

      i do.... I'm normal, everyone else is weird.

    • by Khashishi (775369) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @08:35PM (#38286732) Journal

      The ministry of truth.

    • by alexgieg (948359)

      And who, exactly, gets to decide what a "normal" human being is, and what this mythical alleged "normal" human being would consider "offensive" or "non-offensive"?

      Weeell, we usually understand this word as meaning the common, usual, average etc., but there's another, less know meaning that works quite well in this context: "normal" as that which adheres to a "norm". I doubt this politician used it in this way though. But if he did, he could answer with: "Why, ${BELIEF_SYSTEM}'s normative specialists, evidently!"

      At which point you'd reply: "Good enough, yes, except for the fact that, according to ${MY_BELIEF_SYSTEM}, it's ${BELIEF_SYSTEM} that's abnormal."

      Rinse, repea

    • Not to mention that what people generally see as "normal" varies widly between place and country of origin, education and religion -- if any. There is no magical norm that is world-wide unless you go to REALLY basic stuff, such as eating, sleeping and breathing. There's hardly a consensus on what's "normal" even among people from one, single nation, yet alone multiple countries. Even such a regular concept as marriage can differ a lot, like e.g. in some places marriage can be polygamous instead of monogamou

    • by PPH (736903)

      And who, exactly, gets to decide what a "normal" human being is,

      The next religious war will commence shortly to decide that very question. The winners will define 'normal'. The losers will be burned out or driven out. Study the history of India, Mr Sibal. There are examples aplenty.

  • He obviously fails to understand the core nature of the Internet.  Maybe he should go back to the spaghetti code factory he probably came from.
  • Start with Slashdot dupes [slashdot.org].
  • The idea that one guy can speak for all normal people is one thing, but when coupled with his thought that, "Yeah...we'll just stick a bunch of normal people in a room and make them delete clearly offensive material off the internet as soon as it's created" is frakking ADORABLE.
  • I always get amazed by the "I don't like it so it should not EXIST" attitude. In democratic countries politicians use it to please people who chose them, so the problem is in the mindset of the majority. For politicians it is always easier to play with those things that don't require a lot of effort.
    • by wdef (1050680)

      I always get amazed by the "I don't like it so it should not EXIST" attitude.

      Right: "even though I have no good evidence whether the effects of whatever are bad or not, I don't like it so that is enough. I am told it is bad therefore it is". This is the central idea of fascism.

  • This makes perfect sense, because offensiveness is completely objective. In fact, the terms of being offended are as woven into the human condition as being bi-pedal and having five fingers; as is apparently the humans knack for devolving society. Great stuff India, this is definitively what you should spend your time and resources enforcing.
  • Even those who fall into of the realm of those not offended by content that would offend "any normal people".

    (A group whom I suspect is larger than the group of "normal people").

    The world, and thus social media is full of offensive content, trying to eliminate it all is a fool's game.

    People like me would be offended by bland social media bereft of any offensive content.

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