India fails bid to censor web controversies

INDIA has called for web giants Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo to screen content uploaded by internet users.

The world’s largest democracy unsuccessfully urged the social networking sites to remove material that might “offend Indian sensibilities”.

Kapil Sibal, India’s telecoms and information technology minister, met with executives from these companies earlier this week.

He specifically mentioned web illustrations which depicted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and National Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi in compromising positions as well as a site showing pigs running through Mecca, Islam’s holy city.

Sibal said he expected the companies to use humans, not technology, to screen the user content.

Rajesh Chharia, president of the Internet Service Providers Association of India, said: “I am not favouring censorship, but we should not do anything which could harm the peace of the country.”

A Google spokesperson commented: “When content is legal and does not violate our policies, we will not remove it just because it is controversial. We believe that people’s differing views, as long as they are legal, should be respected and protected.”

India has more than 100m internet users, of whom over 25m are on Facebook.