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US Officials Rebuke India's Request To Subpoena Facebook, Google 96

hypnosec writes "U.S. officials have told the Indian Government that they will not be able to serve summons to the executives of companies like Google and Facebook because they are not convinced that the content hosted on these sites can cause violence and that these summons impact 'free speech principles.' The reply comes as a response to India's request to the US to help serve papers to 11 Internet companies accused of hosting content on their sites that was meant to fuel communal hatred and violence. The U.S. authorities said that there are limitations when it comes to protection on free speech — when the speech comprises a true threat or provokes imminent violence — but in this particular case there is not sufficient evidence of either of these."
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US Officials Rebuke India's Request To Subpoena Facebook, Google

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  • All censors should be told to fuck off, with extreme prejudice.

    • "All censors should be told to fuck off, with extreme prejudice."

      As a society, we have chosen to limit free speech to speech that does not directly threaten or "provoke imminent violence". Those are accurate statements. What people often misunderstand about this is what threats and "imminent violence" are.

      A threat is illegal not because it's abhorrent speech, but because it's a threat. It's illegal to threaten someone in order to get them to behave the way you want. (Somebody please get that through some heads in Federal government!) We have many laws against this kin

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Words are absolutely powerless to compel anyone to act violently. Censorship is just the authoritarians' attempt to control thought and conserve their power. Now, if you're saying there is no free will, well that's a another matter entirely. The only proper way to deal with 'contrary' speech is to make an effective counterpoint, more speech, not less.

        • "Words are absolutely powerless to compel anyone to act violently."

          Yes, that's true, but words can provoke, sometimes against our better judgment or will.

          The classic example is yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater. While that's not violence, strictly speaking, under some circumstances words can cause havoc. The question is whether someone has the right to say things that do actual damage to others.

          Why is it illegal (in most circumstances anyway) to punch me in the nose?

          But in any case, one must keep in mind the standard: in order to be illegal, it must provoke "im

          • "Words are absolutely powerless to compel anyone to act violently."

            Yes, that's true, but words can provoke, sometimes against our better judgment or will.

            The classic example is yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater. While that's not violence, strictly speaking, under some circumstances words can cause havoc.

            In my opinion that classic example is a bad one, and I put it to you that your claims are untested hypotheses which lack any evidence to support them. What is the percentage of times that someone will lapse their better judgment due to a provocational word? No metrics? That's what I thought. Your stance is invalid. Let us test the hypothesis, or begone with laws based on bogus assumptions.

            I do have some experience with being provoked and provoking others -- Any school child does. "Teasing" is a huma

        • I should add that for the most part I agree with you, and any restrictions on speech must be only for the most extreme, most egregious cases.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      All censors should be told to fuck off, with extreme prejudice.

      Try telling that to a certain person hiding in a certain embassy and unable to leave, thanks to the US Govt.

  • Tags (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tokolosh ( 1256448 )

    Seems the appropriate tags should be "pot", "kettle" and "black".

    • Re:Tags (Score:5, Insightful)

      by icebike ( 68054 ) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @01:24PM (#43630039)

      Seems the appropriate tags should be "pot", "kettle" and "black".

      Really? I think you mostly misunderstand what is going on.

      US Government does not routinely haul Mark Zuckerberg or Larry Page into court because some user posts child porn or hate speech on Facebook or Google Plus. Nor does the US demand Pakistan or India deliver summons to the web services in those countries to appear in US courts for anti-US hate postings on their services.

      In the US, there are procedures to have those types of things taken down if warranted, without demanding that the CEO appear in court and answer personally for content so massive in scope and diverse in nature that no one person or large group could possibly police it all.

      And, the US, and most Western governments, would rather allow the stuff to be posted, if for no other reason than doing so provides them with a "watering hole" opportunity for observation.

      Its a whole different thing to demand a court appearance by Zuckerberg simply because some guy going by the name of Tokolosh posted some hate rant on his Facebook page. Especially when there are different countries involved, and different laws about what actually is hate speech.

      Apparently you are in good company in this misunderstanding of what is going on here, judging by how quickly you were modded insightful.

      • Well said
        Most people forget what happened in India in the early days of an indian auction site(similar to ebay, later sold to ebay). Somebody sold a porn cd of a schoolgirl through the auction site. When the ceo from usa was visiting India, the police arrested the ceo.

  • The problem is not the speech but the Muslims, who take offence at anything. Someone says "Muhammad was not a true prophet" and they riot, while they say Jews, Christians and Hindus are animals and worse themselves.
    • s/the Muslims, /people /

      It's not the religion that's the problem, it's some individuals' attitudes. If you attribute this to the wrong property, you are going to both falsely accuse Muslims who aren't part of the problem and let off the hook non-Muslims who are. You can do better than that.

    • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Saturday May 04, 2013 @12:55PM (#43629847)

      If you were familiar with the history of religious violence in India [], you would not make the ridiculous claim that it is primarily perpetrated by Muslims. Intercommunal Hindu-Muslim violence is a major problem in both directions, with extremists on both sides fanning the flames.

      If anything, Muslims more often bear the brunt of the violence; many more have been killed by Hindu mobs than vice versa.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        ... and the opposite violence happening in pakistan

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Unfortunately you are wrong.

        Hindus have faced religious oppression and massacres at the hands of Muslims for hundreds of years in their own homeland.

        Even today Hindus are overwhelmingly more likely to be the victims of religious violence. Unfortunately the liberal bent of the media ensures that these incidents rarely come to light, whereas anytime Muslims are the target the incident is prominently highlighted.

    • Ossifer says you're a bigot. I disagree with him. But - you are somewhat uninformed. India is home to several religions, and all of them can get violent if they feel their own gods are being denigrated. We might argue that the Muslims are the most violent - but I'd have to do some research before I actually committed myself to that position.

    • It might be noted that when India & Pakistan were granted independence from the UK, many Muslims living in predominantly Hindu areas were massacred.

      This went so far as to include the Indian Army stopping trains full of Muslims headed to Pakistan and killing everyone on board.

      So, no, it's not just the Muslims causing problems....

  • by adosch ( 1397357 ) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @12:40PM (#43629771)

    I guess if the Indian government wants to talk about censorship and muting of violence, then I vote for them to worry less about about the minors registering on social networks like FB and alike, and more about the ones getting raped on buses in their own country as of late.

    It's a bit shallow of me to exploit a circumstance such as that (and certainly not a dig at all from the wonderful Indian community at large), but it's sad what 'Big Machine' irregardless of worldly location will waste their time on. Want to do some cleanup with violence? Start within the confines of your own country boundaries first. Definitely in some need of some human filth policing.

  • ...The only freedom no one seems interested in taking away from people in the US.
    • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @01:30PM (#43630087) Journal

      While hating anyone or group usually serves little use and is often as much to the detriment of the hater as the hated; I think the 'freedom to hate' is probably the most important to protect. The 'freedom to hate' is also the the very same freedom to have your own mind, form your own opinions, be truly able to love, and be a whole person with agency. Yes its shameful how many people use that agency so badly but the right answer is not to try and take it away from them.

      If I don't have the freedom to say "I think the world would be better off without $GROUP" I am not really free to speak or think. We can't have go trying to have a list of approved thoughts and ideas; that will be far more anti-human than anything any hate group has ever done.

      There is a big difference between having opinions and acting on them. Its action where the line should be. We should never loose site of that.

    • by ebno-10db ( 1459097 ) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @02:24PM (#43630435)

      The freedom to hate ... The only freedom no one seems interested in taking away from people in the US.

      It's called Freedom of Speech. The reason it has to be Constitutionally protected is not because anybody ever had to protect popular speech. Without it there would have been a time when saying "Negroes should be equal to white people" would have been censored because it would incite hatred.

  • by monzie ( 729782 ) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @01:05PM (#43629935) Homepage

    I am from India. My country is a democratic country ( with many, many flaws, but still democratic)

    The Government is always worried about 'something which will offend the minorities' and spark communal violence.

    I am a member of a minority. The most important and neglected minority in India.

    I am a normal ( well not too normal, I'm on Slashdot! ) rational guy who can look at an idiot trying to make people of community A hate community B for political gains and ( very likely ) personal gains through political gains.

    As simple as that.

    And I'm not buying his/her/their BS on this matter and I'll gladly call it out. On his/her/their face(s)

    Unfortunately I'm a member of such a minority. ( sadly rational people who want to live their lives in peace are a minority )
    The Government is duty-bound to protect the rights of minorities. Protect my rights to free speech. Realize I'm grown up enough to realize when someone is trying to provoke someone in the name of religion/language/caste/color etc.

    • I am a normal ( well not too normal, I'm on Slashdot! ) rational guy

      If I had Mod Points today, that would have been insightful.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I am an anonymous coward from India. I am also part of a minority. In India there is no majority. If you think there is a majority and there is a minority, you are already a racist. What are you? I am Indian. Oh we know that? Are you from the north the south? Which linguistic or non linguistic state do you belong to? Do you speak one of a bizzilion languages? Do you come from this village in India. Do you belong to the least persuasive case of the century or the most powerful caste? (Even this isn't a defin

    • Indians are morally corrupt by birth (caste) for the past 3000 years.
      Google "90% of corrupt money is with Forward Caste people"
      Google "Companies ruined or almost ruined by Forward Caste" []

  • by ebno-10db ( 1459097 ) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @01:10PM (#43629959)
    I'm glad the US is refusing to serve the summons. Hypocritical? Not really. The US government is busy wiping its ass with much of the Bill of Rights (4 and 5 are claimed to be obsolete), and contends that the president has the authority to assassinate US citizens at will, but it's actually pretty good about not censoring speech. Even Noam Chomsky thinks so. More thanks to the judiciary than the legislative or executive branches, but the US government nonetheless.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    A service created in a society where violence as a result of speech is considered abnormal is not compatible with a society where an insult against fundamental values of community leads might lead to massacre and cycle of retributions. Education, fundamental cultural change of 1,1 billion people and very much stronger rule of law and government authority are needed to resolve the issue. Easy as cake, piece of pie. (bonus points for the movie reference)

  • The content doesn't cause the violence, the people taking the content offensively does. Over reacting is a serious issue that is usually caused by people being immature and childish, your allowed to have beliefs and freedoms as long as they don't harm others. Just because I see Jesus eating a hotdog doesn't mean I'm entitled to go and start a war or demand Google shutdown, I'm allowed to look at it and take it how I ever I want and leave it at that. If it offends me I can deal with it and realize that I'
  • YouTube claim to stand for free speech but they also have TOS that contain the usual vague disclaimers about "hate speech". For example I'd be interested to know which people can view each of these videos (it varies by country)

    Innocence of Muslims []

    Jews Lead Gun Control Charge []

    • Their sites their money there rules there's no argument.
      • I am arguing with YouTube's claim that they defend freedom of speech, no matter how offensive. If they decide not to actually defend free speech by censoring certain videos, that is their right, but it invalidates their claim to stand for freedom of speech for their uploaders (although they are still defending their own freedom of speech as a company).
        • As far as I understood it, it's in very rare circumstances, if ever, that YouTube engages in censorship. Innocence of Muslims, for example, is basically the only video censored in certain Muslim areas of the world, and it was only done in response to how badly it could affect the relationship between the US and the region.

          I'm in the US, so I don't know what's censored. If YouTube is only censoring specific videos that cause YouTube to be banned in a country, or have a substantial impact on international pol

  • No problem. India and co will just drone them.

    Oh wait, thats only OK one way, isn't it ?

  • They already have recourse Block Google and stop allowing Indian web sites to be listed on Google stop Indian company's from advertising on Google and so on They do have recourse but they cant force there morality/religious on anyone but Indians. Google doesn't force people in any country to use it.
  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @04:57PM (#43631299) Homepage Journal

    Even in the case where something "provokes immediate violence", we seem to forgot that there is still someone deciding to become violent. Other than the example of yelling "fire" in a crowded theatre, hurting or killing someone is not the immediately obvious correct action to whatever someone says.

    I can relate, I definitely can. There are many things that make me want to punch the speaker in the face, or shoot him. Mostly stuff said by people like the pope, Sarah Palin types or extremist islamists or any of a long list of we-should-withdraw-your-license-to-breathe idiots.

    But, I am a civilised man and keep it just a thought.

    If we would apply the same "provoking violence" standard to the people who tell others to go out there and kill the unbelievers, or murder the abortion doctors, or shame the faggots - the same standard that many seem to want to imply when it comes to the blogs, FB posts and tweets of atheists, homosexuals or other non-conformants, then we could maybe have a discussion.

    As it stands, the people who want to silence you and the people who want to kill you if you continue to speak are of the same kind.

  • Blind Egyptian mullah preaching hate inciting speech against the US in the mosques VERSUS Popular websites posting hate inciting speech. I see a double standard here. It is not really free speech.
  • The article quotes unnamed people in the US Govt, and unamed people in India. This is far too vague to suit me. As far as I am concerned, if the process servers can find them and serve them, that is fine with me. If they don't show up, they can be convicted in absentia and will have to avoid those countries in the future. None of the companies are beyond the law, however large they have become. Freedom of speech is an American issue and not guaranteed in other countries, so while IANABCL, I think sovereign

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