New Delhi: Amid the raging controversy over content regulation online, Internet search giant Google India on Tuesday said it complies with the law of the land but will not remove any material just because it is controversial.
“We work really hard to make sure that people have as much access to information as possible, while also following the law. This means that when content is illegal, we abide by local law and take it down.”
“And even where content is legal but breaks or violates our own terms and conditions we take that down too, once we have been notified about it,” a Google spokesperson said.
“But when content is legal and does not violate our policies, we will not remove it just because it is controversial, as we believe that people’s differing views, so long as they are legal, should be respected and protected,” the spokesperson added.
Telecom minister Kapil Sibal on Tuesday asked social websites like Google and Facebook to ensure that uploading of derogatory material online is stopped.
He said the government does not want to interfere but if social networking sites are not willing to cooperate, “then it is the duty of the government to think of steps that we need.”
The government has met the officials from Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo over last few weeks after offensive materials, particularly against Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, were put on the Internet.
Search engine giant Yahoo! refused to comment on the views of the minister, while Microsoft officials were not available for comments.
Social networking site Facebook, which has more than 25 million users in the country, has said it will remove any content that is hateful, threatening and incites “violence” or contains nudity off the service.
“We recognise the government’s interest in minimising the amount of abusive content that is available online and will continue to engage with the Indian authorities as they debate this important issue,” the Facebook statement said.
Even as Sibal defended the government’s move, criticism poured in the cyber space that India should not emulate countries like China in attempting to gag freedom of expression.
However, the minister got support from Shashi Tharoor, Congress MP, who is popular in cyber world. “Have to say I support Kapil Sibal on the examples he gave me: deeply offensive material about religions & communities that could incite riots,” Tharoor tweeted.
But his political rivals and MPs Varun Gandhi and Jayant Choudhary differed.
Gandhi said Internet is the only truly democratic medium free of “vested interests, media owners & paid-off journos. Can’t see why Sibal wants to gag it,” he said.
Chaudhary said “Censorship of the internet - forget the desirability issue for a minute, is it even possible??!!!”