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Tuesday, 07 February 2012 11:36

Google and Facebook retreat in India

Written by Nick Farrell



Feared China crisis


Internet giants Google and Facebook have censored their Indian domain websites after a court warned them that they would suffer from a crackdown "like China" if they did not do as they were told.

More than 21 companies are in the dock in India after religious groups took them to court because the internet contained images that were offensive to Hindus, Muslims and Christians. It looks as if the feeling is that the Internet will only be allowed to
exist if it does not offend any religious groups. Ironically this is something that we find deeply offensive to our religion which claims that forcing another person to shut up really gets God cross.  However we do not think that the Indian court will be taking our religion into account as it tries to throw the book at the Internet Google spokeswoman Paroma Roy Chowdhury said that its review team has looked at the content and disabled this content from the local domains of Google search, Youtube and Blogger.

Normally it would not bother but India passed a law last year which allowed every self-appointed internet censor to rush to court to have something removed that they disagreed with. Not only are Internet companies responsible for user content posted on their websites, they have 36 hours to take down content if there is a complaint. Google, Facebook, Yahoo! and Microsoft have appealed in the Delhi High Court against a separate criminal case successfully brought by journalist Vinay Rai.

In that case the court ordered the companies to stand trial for offenses relating to the distribution of obscene material to minors.  This material involved images the court decided were offensive to Prophet Mohammed, Jesus and various Hindu gods and goddesses, although how the asked these beings is any one's guess.  We doubt that any Gods were called to the stand to ask if they were upset Some sites also attacked political leaders, who the court thinks should be treated like Gods.
While the rules are there, India's Internet access is still largely uncensored, in contrast to the tight controls in neighbouring China. But apparently the Government is worried about the effects of social media which tends to talk about them and how incompetent and corrupt they are.

Nick Farrell

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