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India OKs Censoring Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo 146

An anonymous reader writes "An Indian court given the green light for the prosecution of '21 social networking sites.' The list features 10 foreign-based companies, and could affect websites provided by Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and YouTube. The recent development is part of an ongoing argument between the companies and India over whether content should be regulated (read: censored) in the country. The approval was actually made on December 23, 2011, but was only revealed yesterday. India warned these websites it can block them just like China can."
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India OKs Censoring Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo

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  • Let them try (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arcite ( 661011 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @10:15AM (#38697154)
    Look, unless they filter and censor every single email, text, data stream ect... it is a complete lost cause. This will just spur innovation in finding methods to avoid the censors such as seen in China.
    • Re:Let them try (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheReaperD ( 937405 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @10:18AM (#38697190)

      In addition, India doesn't have a large military policing the policies of the government and courts. Take away search and social media sites and there'd be a revolt by their own citizens.

      • Re:Let them try (Score:4, Interesting)

        by milkasing ( 857326 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @01:41PM (#38698646)
        Freedom of speech in India is far weaker that what most Indians think it is. Prominent people are regularly arrested for exercising free speech, by making speeches, making politically incorrect statements, burning copies of the constitution, writing articles, etc)
        To take a recent example, an opposition leader who played a part in exposing India's largest corruption case, has an arrest warrant out on him because he wrote this article in July Analysis: How to wipe out Islamic terror [] (the article seems to have been removed from the online version of the newspaper itself)
        Censorship does not directly affect most people in India not because of free speech protections (which are very weak), but because the government is not strong enough to impose it on everyone.
        The threat to internet freedom is not from and Indian version of the great wall of china, but from the possibility that, to protect their business opportunities in India, Internet companies will bend over to accommodate the govt of India. If history is any indication, the people in India will protest very loudly for a few days, then get distracted by the latest celebrity scandal . Ultimately they will adjust to one less freedom (the infamous attitude we term as "Chalta Hai") and forget about it.
        • Re:Let them try (Score:4, Interesting)

          by hihihihi ( 940800 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @02:18PM (#38699036)

          ain't it is still amazing somehow democracy still survives... even if on lifesupport.

          not long ago this same govt. tried to suspend constitution [], they tried and somehow common sense prevailed.though now it is many time more subtle but concentrated effort (media + judiciary + political setup) all trying same thing... and i still think still we can survive. not because there is something inherent in setup, but just that our "authoritahs" are weak and nothing survives shit like a weak authority and high diversity makes it impossible to form any monolithic force in india.

          Judiciary (which was the last group to support govt. decision to block the "evilz" recently) is unequipped to do anything other then trying to save their own image (
          Media... the "think of the children" ones (NDTV, Bannet Colman, HindTimes etc.) work accordingly to their political friends, but the problem is masses have stopped listening to them more or less. as far as "world ends on 21Dec" type media is concerned... well they are more concerned on circus then bread.
          Govt... i need not even start..

          in 1975, it was govt vs. media+judiciary. this time it will be more of disgruntled public vs. failing govt.

          in 1975, the govt. was claiming we have just attained freedom from the britain so people are destitue... this time all they can do is play blame game which will not help anyone.

          not sure how correct i am, though sure i hope this "china is the way to go" plan fails.

        • This article also got Subramanian Swamy taken off the Harvard School professorship. No explanation offered. There was an online petition or two that got the support of many Harvard students and some of the staff. Harvard did not explain anything other than saying that the publication of the article.

          My suspicion is that this has happened only because SS is not an American. Noam Chonsky of MIT has held similar firebrand views in the US - but his political views have not had him fired - because he is a Compute

      • by afgam28 ( 48611 )

        Are you serious? Less than 10% of Indians are online; most of their population lives in poverty. Indians aren't going to start a revolution because a small percentage of them can't poke each other on Facebook.

        • by oiron ( 697563 )

          Revolution? No... We don't think like the Middle East. We're more likely to work around laws than to get them overturned violently. On the other hand, it would be impossible to enforce.

          Consider, 10% of the Indian population is One Hundred Million People. The smarter, more educated 100 million. The class from among whom the enforcers would have to be drawn. You think it's going to be easy (or possible) to close the cracks on that?

          Besides, mobile penetration has reached a whopping 73%, which is better than Ch

          • by afgam28 ( 48611 )

            All I'm saying is that I doubt India's military/police will suddenly be fighting against anti-Internet-censorship revolutionaries, as the previous poster suggested. I'm as against Internet censorship as anyone but let's be realistic here.

            In China there's a Great Firewall and it's really annoying but if you have some basic technical knowledge you can find a proxy or tunnel around the problem. Some people have started local clones of sites like Google, Facebook and Youtube (Baidu, Renren and YouKu). For nearl

    • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

      Don't put it past them. They can always create their own intranet, with monitored/restricted portals to the global internet. ( or no connection with the outside at all )

      • Re:Let them try (Score:5, Insightful)

        by redmid17 ( 1217076 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @10:20AM (#38697206)
        They could try to create their own intranet. You really think that all the international companies with outsourced work in India are gonna like that? If the Indian government tried that, it would tank their economy.
      • Re:Let them try (Score:5, Interesting)

        by angiasaa ( 758006 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @11:00AM (#38697494) Homepage

        Nah, that would not work. For one thing, Indians have had free rein over their Facebook, Google and twitter accounts since the very beginning. The citizenry will find it way too hard to make the shift from a global to a local platform.

        Furthermore, we Indians are used to being relatively uncensored at every turn. The moment we "realize" that the government is actively monitoring every tweet and every post, people will start withdrawing from the services offered.

        We have a deep mistrust of our government. It is one thing to force the uneducated into censorship. But those of us who use the internet have at least a basic education, and we don't like the government meddling in any of our affairs. especially if we can't see a justification in it.

        What irks many of us, is the fact that the government spends too little of our tax money in the right places. For instance, the roads are potholed, the water services are unreliable. Energy production has crawled into a hole and died. There is hunger and starvation all over the country. The middle and upper classes are the ones who are most impacted by the Governmental organizations. The Police are unreliable.

        When an accident occurs, we fear reporting it to the cops because we know that if we do, we're the first to be taken in for questioning and the cops overstep their authority at every turn. You see a guy dying on the street, and passers by will stop just to mull around and stare. Everyone will complain that someone should do something, but no one will consider calling the authorities or helping the poor chap to a hospital because the helper becomes the hunted in the eyes of the authorities.

        A friend of mine was put in the slammer for moving the victim of an accident. He was let free four days later because the court decided he was innocent, but he left with bruises and came down with a bad case of diarrhea. The cops actually beat the guy up during their "questioning for facts"! He was just trying to help an injured guy who ended up dying on the way to the hospital.

        We love our country, but we hate deeply, those in power who're trying to run it because they don't appear to care for the public.

        An alternative website, monitored/restricted or not, will hold even less water in such a country. They might be able to forcefully lock social networks out of the country, but they can't get people to use a government-controlled one.

        • MOST of what you just wrote, I could have assumed to be written about the US.

          how sad (for both of us).

          it shows that across the world, people in power are ALL THE SAME. ie, untrustable.

          • Yeah, except how many Americans would actually switch to another platform knowing that the government is actively monitoring or working on censoring it?

            Oh, wait... NEXT TO NONE.

            Facebook is the new crack and almost EVERYBODY IS HOOKED. Make any changes and the sheep will just keep chuggin' along, like the media, their "representatives," and everyone else they know does. Most Americans truly are sheep, looking to the great nanny state to tell them what to do next (and no, just because we can sit here and bitc
            • short answer: fragmentation of the internet.

              we already have darknets and sneakernets.

              let the masses be monitored on the internet 1 and 2. we'll start internet4 (skipping 3 since we're so much smarter).

              that'll last for a little while.

          • Re:Let them try (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2012 @01:07PM (#38698336)
            Bullshit! Look I've lived in both US and India (born there , now US citizen). Yes, US has issues, but there is no way you can compare India and US. I was born in poor class Indian family and if I was there, there was no way I would have gotten proper education and lived a decent life. If you have money in india, yes you can live a luxury life by bribing your way out (corruption is part of every day life there!). But if you want to make something of yourself from nothing, USA is still world apart (haven't lived in Europe so don't know much about it). But people who think there is not much difference between USA and India should go live there for few months. Yes, there is lots of drama in US news TV, but at the end of the day, even if you are poor there is respect to human life here. If you are not rich in India, you are pretty much worse than an animal. I'm not an american apologist, America has lots of flaws and issues, but there is no way you can compare it with India/China. Of course, that does not mean we all should be happy, there is always room for improvement. I do not ever want life in USA come anywhere closer to that of India (and I'm not talking about money, just respect for a human being).
          • MOST of what you just wrote, I could have assumed to be written about the US.

            Not true. I have my own issues with the country but making up lies is kinda useless as well. When some one is lying in the streets, he gets help. Energy production is a top priority here, without it businesses would not put up with it. You do not get thrown in jail for helping some one. The police get in trouble here all the time for corruption and over reach. So, essentially, none of his points were accurate with regard to the US.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          You see a guy dying on the street, and passers by will stop just to mull around and stare. Everyone will complain that someone should do something, but no one will consider calling the authorities or helping the poor chap to a hospital because the helper becomes the hunted in the eyes of the authorities.

          Sadly I've seen this first-hand. While travelling in India, I became very ill and began to fall down in the street in busy downtown New Delhi. No one stopped to help me (or even mull around and stare). The

        • It is a shame that anyone should half to endure such tragedy.

          However, I find it incredibly honorable and reassuring to know that at least somewhere in the world, there is a massive group of intelligent, open-minded, and decent people who will not let their government step on them so easily.

          We Americans could certainly learn from you Indians, and I don't mean that in a tech or web sense. ;)
        • by djlowe ( 41723 ) *

          It is one thing to force the uneducated into censorship. But those of us who use the internet have at least a basic education, and we don't like the government meddling in any of our affairs.

          You're quite a bigot. Do you cross the street to avoid the unclean, too?

          • It is one thing to force the uneducated into censorship. But those of us who use the internet have at least a basic education, and we don't like the government meddling in any of our affairs.

            You're quite a bigot. Do you cross the street to avoid the unclean, too?

            may i ask why exactly is he a bigot?
            censorship is easy if the people censored are illeterate. i consider it a fact and not just theory.

            read all the links if you wish: []

            and it is not that powers (religious/ political/ financial) since time immortal have not tried to keep people illeterate by imposing censorship!

        • Are you sure you don't live in America? It sure sounds like it.

    • What China has also demonstrated is that the anti-censorship technologies tend to languish in obscurity as long as the government does not censor too much. There are lots of Tor users in China, but they amount to only a fraction of a percent of the number of Internet users in China. The only major increases in Tor use in China occur just after the government cranks up the firewall, and Chinese government knows this -- they do not even block Tor most of the time, because they do not want to foster popular
    • And in a tit-for-tat retaliatory move, since India may be blocking large for-profit campaign-contributing US corporations, the US (either through treaty or through an executive order) will start imposing economic sanctions back on India and will start blocking the phone lines and the ip addresses (from the US) of the more influential non-US corporations that are based in India.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2012 @10:17AM (#38697162)

    To prevent public outrage caused by India's current cricket scores

    • Indian on Slashdot! :o
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      ff there are so many crickets in India, Indians should keep frogs as pets. It also has the added benefit of being a food source and it could further Indian-French relations (I'm sure there are many Indian restaurant in France already, so let's reciprocate.)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's crazy that slashdot and other people have some notion of western free speech that is universal and ingrained in human nature.

    Why is it so strange that other people in other places might have a different idea than you about censorship?

    Really, if you are not Indian, it doesn't concern you. Stay out of other people's internal affairs.

    • I personally feel we can butt in to another countries business if they are violating basic human rights. As we all live on the same planet there are some base level standards and the rest of the world should intervene when those lines are crossed.

      Now that said, is free speech a basic right? Perhaps, but internet use sure isn't.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        What difference does the medium make? Would it be any different if they were disallowing particular books rather than particular websites?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          In my mind, no. Freedom of speech is ESSENTIAL for free society. If you aren't free then you aren't much better than a slave.

      • Free speech is a basic right. And that would include the written word as well. Internet usage is not a right however, but I think you do have a point there. There are some lines that should not be crossed, and they're doing just that.

      • India is a democracy. We really don't need to butt in. It's not a dictatorship, they choose their politicians. Unfortunately a democracy doesn't have to guarantee rights. In fact, subverting rights in a democracy is not all that hard. You just have to say something something terrorists something something children
    • by ElBeano ( 570883 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @10:25AM (#38697250)
      Sure, let Indians have their say, but don't expect us to shut up and mind our own business. The world is far too small for that now. I'm pretty sure many Indians don't agree with you.
    • by fnj ( 64210 )

      Sorry, "We hold these truths to be self-evident". Sound familiar? We really do mean self-evident. Not just for western white middle class people. We don't think we can lay the law down for India and the rest of the world, and you can ignore us, but not all of us are going to shut up. You know what you can do with your imperative which is essentially to tell us to shut up.

      Having said that, India is Indians' country, for sure. Have a ball.

    • by methamorph ( 950510 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @10:39AM (#38697346)

      Really, if you are not Indian, it doesn't concern you. Stay out of other people's internal affairs. []
      First they came for the communists,
      and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

      Then they came for the trade unionists,
      and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

      Then they came for the Jews,
      and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

      Then they came for the Catholics,
      and I didn't speak out because I was Protestant.

      Then they came for me
      and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @10:48AM (#38697396)

      Really, if you are not Indian, it doesn't concern you. Stay out of other people's internal affairs.

      If I saw my neigbour abusing his wife, I'd probably call the police and not claim that it's "someone else's internal affair". If there are people there in India who suffer for some reason, you can't expect me to feel indifferent.

      • otoh, isn't this 'buttinsky-ism' what got us into decades of trouble in the middle east? and other places??

        sometimes, I'm not so sure you want to make someone else's problems your problems. it does NOT always work or go down well.

        and its also not black and white all the time. the 'neighbor beating his wife' example is an extreme but that does not justify all intrusions into other cultures' affairs.

        tl;dr: IT DEPENDS.

    • by sanman2 ( 928866 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @11:00AM (#38697486)

      Anonymous Coward wrote:

      "It's crazy that slashdot and other people have some notion of western free speech that is universal and ingrained in human nature. Why is it so strange that other people in other places might have a different idea than you about censorship? Really, if you are not Indian, it doesn't concern you. Stay out of other people's internal affairs."

      I'm Indian - who the hell are you to speak for all of us, and tell others not to comment? Anyone can comment on anything they like. It's called Freedom, and you seem to be ignorant of the concept. You wouldn't happen to be a Supreme Court Justice, would you? Why don't you post under your real name, instead of as an Anonymous Coward?

      In police states like Pakistan and China, the courts are used to harass and suppress political opponents. Now you'd like that to happen in India, too. And you're defending this by manufacturing some kind of pretext based on cultural differences?

      Get stuffed and get lost.

      • Hear, hear! All people everywhere> want the same things: To be left the hell alone! They don't want governments telling them how to live, what they can and can't speak about, how they raise their kids, etc.
    • Oh look, the paid shills are out in full force. Freedom of speech is an internationally recognized human right: []

      ...and what happens when the rest of the world ignores human rights violations? Things like this: []
    • It's not wrong to believe that what's bad for you , must be bad for someone else also , and therefore not wishing it upon that other person.
      It's called the Golden Rule , and it concerns every breathing thing on the planet.

      People in different places have different opinions. But that also includes us ( strange that you don't want to enforce freedom of expression on them, but you have no problem enforcing it on us. Did you ever consider that us and them might be the same ).

    • So you are saying slashdot is US ONLY?
      Issues relating to other countries should not be discussed here?
      Perhaps you should have seen India in the title and not opened the article itself?
    • Using this same logic, if your neighbour is brutally beating his kids you just think that's their problem and other people should mind their own business? Countries are just lines on a map. We're all human, and we should stand up for one another against abuses like this no matter where they occur.

    • You're censoring my internet. I do happen to drop by in India and China from time to time. This shit applies to me as well.

      Apart from that, I know a lot of Indians who are just as unhappy about this as I am. And don't tell me the people implementing this are implementing the "will of the majority". They're just implementing 'minority clique hanging on to power, lesson 1' and you know it. The sole Indians who should cheer this on are the ones profiting from it. That leaves 99% of the Indians on my side.

    • India has nuclear bombs, and rockets capable of reaching orbit, therefore ballistic missiles that reach less than orbit. Therefore we have a self interest in making sure they have a civilized government which won't use them. Free speech is one of the tools to help maintain a civilized government, therefore that is also in our self interest to encourage it. Now you shut up.

    • by oiron ( 697563 )

      There are Indians on Slashdot, you know...

      Besides, the experiences of one country are applicable in others too

  • by koan ( 80826 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @10:32AM (#38697316)

    Each region will censor social sites then no doubt create their own sites leaving no truly World wide social sites, perhaps even so far as to create walled gardens for each region with little crosstalk in social, commerce, or informational sites.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      The parent makes a very interesting point. What if it isn't free speech that scares government - what if its the global interconnection - and the threat of that eroding the real life "walled garden."
    • by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @11:13AM (#38697572)
      End of the social bubble? Basically that would be the end of the age of open communication we used to be headed for. Thanks do draconian governments and corporations, we seem to be headed towards a new form of 'Dark Ages'.
      • Well, to play devils advocate, the end of the walled garden is going to let the neighbors dog in. China is already paying people to make phony pro-government posts all over the internet, and within 10 years every single shithole in the world will be spreading propaganda in every corner of the internet. How do you prevent foreign interests from manipulating your population over the internet?

        Do I agree with censorship to prevent this this? Of course not. I'm just trying to understand the fears driving these g

        • by koan ( 80826 )

          "How do you prevent foreign interests from manipulating your population over the internet?"

          Ideally through an education that allows people to make up their own minds, and though "education" could be considered a form of propaganda I mean an education that is open and teaches people to think for themselves.
          Of course that requires your society being one that free thinking people want to support =)

          The easier way is better propaganda on our side, you have to admit it's pretty hard to beat Hollywood's propaganda

          • To be fair, Hollywood's propaganda isn't really pro-US, its mostly just pro-Democrat.

            Yea, old Hollywood was pro-US, but those days are long over. One of the most common villains in movies these days is the corrupt Republican Senator.

            • by koan ( 80826 )

              Hollywood's propaganda is pro war/pro Irrael no one in power cares about the "American dream? or the USA/Constitution, that's a magic phrase the use to make you feel good.

      • by koan ( 80826 )

        We aren't headed for it it has always been this way, The Power That Be can not have open and easy communication for the masses, it thwarts what they want to do which is control and manipulate, so the Internet is the first things that I can think of where anyone can have a webpage and share their thoughts and experiences with everyone in the World.

        Not even books did that.

  • Trying to squeeze deep pockets for dough.
    I withhold the details how this works or why it failed.

  • The worst thing that could happen is Google etc cooperating with these governments to shut the internet down. Now the Indian government is fighting with them which will force Google etc to fight back. That creates a situation where freedom is actually best likely to survive. The indian government can't do anything without the cooperation of these companies. Even if they had it they might not succeed. But without them its totally hopeless. And by going in this direction google is put in the position of treat

  • Civil society in India agitating against corruption in 2011 made use of social networking and SMS's to mobilize large crowd Janlokpal []

    The party in power has been attacking every communication medium used by the agitators since. Sending of bulk SMS's was prohibited immediately after their agitation in august/Sept SMS []. Phone network was down in mumbai during their protest meet in December. Their Facebook page was removed in Sept/Oct.

    At a particular time during the August agitation the government was vi

  • by sgt scrub ( 869860 ) <saintium@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Saturday January 14, 2012 @11:46AM (#38697782)

    Everytime a site hears a government say, "we should censor [insert website here]", they should respond with an immediate blanket ip block on the addresses for the government in that country. Google, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Bing all should have blocked the IP addresses of the U.S. government as soon as they mentioned they were forming bills to sensor them.

  • The title states "India OKs censorship...", but the article "only" states: "A trial court in New Delhi on Friday ordered that summons be served in the criminal case to officials at all 21 companies at their foreign headquarters’ addresses." As far as I can see, no decisions have been taken, and nobody has been told to start censoring anything. The fact that they are calling in representatives for these IT companies is worrying, certainly, but it does not mean that anything else has been decided.
  • That would kill the Indian software industry dead! How else are the workers supposed to find code examples to copy and paste? Asking on mailing lists take too long, even though they send reminders half an hour after posting the question!

  • It's a good thing that a government finally stood up to regulate some of these big businesses. I'm glad to see that these big corporations aren't in the pocket book of Indian politicians... too bad this could never happen hear in America, where these companies would just hire lobbyists to prevent this from occurring. This is why we need to completely remove all business influence from American politics.

  • If that's the way they want it, then give it to them: Have Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and YouTube terminate all services to India, immediately. Enjoy being back in the Dark Ages, India.
  • by kikito ( 971480 )

    "India warned these websites it can block them just like China can"

    The Big Wall of (Internet) China costed millions.

    India will block all internet using just one of $100 PCs that they are on the verge of releasing.

    • by kikito ( 971480 )

      Correction: India will block all internet using just one of *those* $100 PCs that they are on the verge of releasing.

  • by oiron ( 697563 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @12:47AM (#38703540) Homepage

    The summary is stupid, but that's to be expected, I guess...

    This is not from the government; I'm sure they'd try, but they'd just not be able to get the appropriate legislation passed and implemented. Not because Parliament wouldn't want it, but because they'd probably just end up delaying for another couple of years, bouncing it around committees and then go into election mode. In any case, the government infrastructure for this kind of censorship, especially of the internet, is just not there.

    A few years ago, they tried to block Yahoo groups, on the basis that there were seditious groups on there. That lasted all of 24 hours! The public outcry, combined with the total impossibility of actually enforcing the ban, made them back down. It didn't work then, and it won't work now.

    More to the point, as I said earlier, this is NOT the government. It's an activist judge in the Delhi High Court, which has NO POWERS over the rest of the country. In fact, given that this would violate a large portion of the fundamental rights section of the constitution, I'm pretty sure the Supreme Court would strike it down. With extreme prejudice!

    I doubt that this case will really proceed. Right now, it's one judge making stupid off-the-cuff remarks, not giving a judgement. More to the point, a judgement is not policy, and enforcement is a whole other ball game. It's out of the court's powers, and there's no mechanism in the government for it.

  • If any court in any country passes an actual enforceable sentence like this, Google, Facebook and other similar websites should actually help the court implement its decision by blocking all requests coming from that country/region and redirecting them to Disney or TeleTubbies or something like that.

    They can reverse that decision when the country stops behaving like a baby and comes begging to be let back in, ideally with the judge's head on a platter as a peace offering.

  • I believe Indian courts are trying to indirectly impose/promote Forward caste hegemony [] over BC/SC/ST/Minority communities. []

  • The Govt officials are just looking for bribes. That's why they're calling these company's representatives. Once the representatives come and give them what they need, they would just forget what they said about censoring the web. Sadly, that's how things work in my country.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel