ibnlive » India

Dec 06, 2011 at 09:09pm IST

India going the China way on online content?

New Delhi: Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal's idea of pre-screening content on websites has triggered widespread rage across the virtual and the real world. The government has been saying that it is doing this to protect religious sentiments from being offended, but across the spectrum, the debate is increasing on whether India is doing a China.

Across the political spectrum, they have used various social networking sites to communicate with the masses. Now the messenger itself is at the centre of a raging political debate.

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Kapil Sibal met the representatives of Facebook, Yahoo, Google and Microsoft, seeking to device a screening mechanism, which disables derogatory content on their platform, including that against the top political leadership of the UPA and some which can hurt religious sentiments.

"Some of the content which is being carried is blasphemous. This can hurt religious sentiments and it has to be removed," Sibal said.

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The government says social networking sites are non-committal on a full proof screening mechanism.

Facebook in its reaction on reports about the government screening content, said, "We recognise the government's interest in minimising the amount of abusive content and will continue to engage with the Indian authorities."

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But the issue has already triggered a political war of words with some like Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor coming out in support of the minister while others like BJP's Varun Gandhi are opposing to any regulations.

The Indian government's move to censor content has attracted global attention as well. Comparisons are being drawn on whether India is doing a China on online content.

The timing of this move has also raised some eyebrows as it comes just before Anna Hazare prepares to launch another round of protest on the Lokpal Bill. In their earlier campaigns, Team Anna has made extensive use of these sites to mobilise support.

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