India Says Google & Facebook Should Prescreen All User Generated Content To Stop Jerks

from the don't-disparage-me,-bro dept

If you thought pushing companies to monitor for infringement or terrorism were bad enough, apparently officials in the Indian government have asked Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo to pre-screen all user-generated content to try to remove "disparaging, inflammatory or defamatory" content from being posted.
At the meeting, Mr. Sibal showed attendees a Facebook page that maligned the Congress Party’s president, Sonia Gandhi. “This is unacceptable,” he told attendees, the executive said, and he asked them to find a way to monitor what is posted on their sites.

In the second meeting with the same executives in late November, Mr. Sibal told them that he expected them to use human beings to screen content, not technology, the executive said.

The three executives said Mr. Sibal has told these companies that he expects them to set up a proactive prescreening system, with staffers looking for objectionable content and deleting it before it is posted.
Apparently, Kapil Sibal, India's Minister for Telecommunications, doesn't comprehend the scale of what he's asking, or the fact that it's impossible. How does one become a bureaucrat in charge of a technology field when one can't comprehend such basic concepts? Oh crap, do I have to pre-screen for such "disparaging" remarks now?

Seriously, we're seeing this kind of insanity more and more these days, where politicians, who clearly have absolutely no freaking clue about the technology they're regulating, are coming up with positively insane suggestions, with no comprehension about the ramifications. The end effect in this case, would almost certainly be the end of any kind of user-generated content system in India. Is that really what Sibal wants?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Hulser (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 10:48am

    No good option

    The end effect in this case, would almost certainly be the end of any kind of user-generated content system in India. Is that really what Sibal wants?

    There are three possibilities...

    1) He doesn't know the end effect this would have in spite of his position as Minister for Telecommunications. In other words, he's clueless.

    2) He knows the end effect and therefore knows it will never come about. In other words, he's grandstanding.

    3) He knows the end effect and doesn't care. In other words, he wants to go back to a time when a few gatekeepers, including the government, controlled communication.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 11:07am

    The end effect in this case, would almost certainly be the end of any kind of user-generated content system in India. Is that really what Sibal wants?

    I'm pretty sure the **AA's of the world would love the end of user-generated content! Along with all their political figurehead lapdogs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    bjupton (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 11:09am

    Someone help me figure out the laws here.

    I live in California. Am I allowed to roll my eyes at this dip?

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Dec 5th, 2011 @ 11:17am

    You excuse with "don't have a clue". -- No, they LOVE power, Mike.

    Just a while ago read a piece on how people now deny that evil is real. You show a symptom of that, consistently choosing "fool" rather "knave", especially when discussing politicians. -- They're ALL corrupt, Mike, competing to be the most evil. So don't cut 'em any slack. Those guys know exactly what they're doing: stifling dissent, controlling thought.

     

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  5.  
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    davebarnes (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 11:20am

    let's get this out in the open

    Manmohan Singh is a dipshit.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2011 @ 11:23am

    I'm sure he knows

    Where do you think the manpower will come from?
    India!

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Dec 5th, 2011 @ 11:30am

    Their ideal system...

    Thank you for submitting your content to the Internet™.

    The current wait time to have your content reviewed by the Ministry of Information for offensiveness, child pornography, copyright infringement, and eye-rolling before it will be posted online is eight months, two weeks, and seven days.

    Remember, you can purchase a corporate internet account for only $45,000/year and enjoy the speed and convenience of the express review queue!

     

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  8.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 11:32am

    Re: let's get this out in the open

    If you have a facebook account go post that there also ... :)

     

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  9.  
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    Jay (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 11:37am

    Small disparity

    I wonder what's going to happen when Egypt's new democracy has a word with India's texting censorship and "review" of indecent materials against American social media groups.

     

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  10.  
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    Trails (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 11:37am

    Re: Their ideal system...

    Please also continue to pretend that the indian darknet you've heard so much about doesn't exist.

     

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  11.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 11:39am

    Web 3.0?

    Why do I get the feeling that Web 3.0 is going to look just like Web 1.0?

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2011 @ 11:40am

    Re: I'm sure he knows

    This was exactly what I was thinking. This would require one mighty big outsourcing contract, wouldn't it?

     

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  13.  
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    AG Wright (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 11:40am

    Dear Kapil Sibal, India's Minister for Telecommunications

    You are an idiot.
    Hopefully this will qualify me for prosecution in India.

    AG

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 11:42am

    Re: Web 3.0?

    Well, it'll be prettier but not nearly as functional as web 2.0--unless you're a L337 |-|4x0R or something.

     

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  15.  
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    Comboman (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 11:43am

    Google should request...

    Google should request that all of Minister Sibal's ideas be prescreened by his staff to remove any that are impossible, impractical. cost-prohibitive or just plain stupid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Trails (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 11:43am

    This is very bad for india

    India's tech sector (and North America's too) thrives in part on open exchange of information.

    Sites like stackoverflow are inundated with Q&A's from folks with indian names, and it's a safe guess a fair percentage of those are in india.

    Anyway, this idiot is tilting at windmills. Even if he wins, he'll lose. At most he'll drive facebook out of india, and some other service will take it's place. If he decides to get really stupid, he can try to setup a great firewall, which will be as effective as bailing the titanic with a burlap sack.

     

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  17.  
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    Mike42 (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 11:43am

    Remember, "Sticks and stones my break my bones, but words will never harm me!" What happened to that?

    As a person who was called many unsavory things, I'm really disgusted by this "speak no evil, even if it is the truth" b.s. Verbal insults are nothing after getting punched in the stomach 3 times for beating the schoolyard bully at a game of tetherball. (Yes, this is still burned in my mind 30 years after the fact!)

    I think the whole world needs to get off my lawn.

     

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  18.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 11:45am

    My question is, would this apply to only Indian citizens? or to US generated content also? How would they determine who is Indian, and who is from another country?

    Facebook prevents news stories from fox news from showing in the "The Most Shared Articles of 2011" so this is nothing new to them.

     

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  19.  
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    Doug D (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 11:45am

    Re: No good option

    4) He assumes all these countries will outsource the job to India, boosting their employment numbers.

     

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  20.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 11:47am

    Re: You excuse with "don't have a clue". -- No, they LOVE power, Mike.

    Is this the same Blue who said he'd destroy Youtube and just a few days ago said he didn't bother reading the articles here?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 11:55am

    Re: Google should request...

    Another reason for a "Report This Politician As An Idiot" button.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 11:56am

    Re: Dear Kapil Sibal, India's Minister for Telecommunications

    Another reason for a "Report This Politician As An Idiot" button.

    /oops commented in the wrong place

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2011 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Re: You excuse with "don't have a clue". -- No, they LOVE power, Mike.

    thats the one

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Brendan (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 12:12pm

    Re: Re: No good option

    This was the conclusion I came to as well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    Ron (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 12:18pm

    Hmmm

    Well, India has the manpower. Let India hire the country to scan facebook, etc. for any disparaging remarks made against anything in India. Just hire the whole country. That will then occupy all those people currently doing outsourcing work for US companies, take them out of the workforce so that those jobs can come back to the US.
    Short term, Google, et al, could simply block these idiots from the Indian government from appearing in anything presented and just say they are abiding by what the Indian politicians want.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2011 @ 12:32pm

    This is not "impossible", it might be impractical, but it is possible to monitor all the posts. Imagine a negative unemployment rate where the demand for employees is greater than the population.

     

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  27.  
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    hothmonster, Dec 5th, 2011 @ 12:34pm

    I say they just assign one person to check all content coming from India and see how long it takes the public to get this guy tossed out on his ass once it takes 6 years to get a status update online.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2011 @ 12:50pm

    Series of tubes

    Seems a reasonable expectation: just plug the tube going to Mr. Sibal's Internet, and the case is Sol-Ved!

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2011 @ 1:00pm

    Re:

    This is not "impossible", it might be impractical, but it is possible to monitor all the posts.


    No, it's impossible.

    This isn't just a matter of scale, but also of knowledge.

    It is flat-out impossible for one person to know with certainty what will offend someone else. It is impossible to know if everything posted is defamatory. Assume you're one of the "filters". Somebody you don't know posts that a friend of theirs had sex with his highschool crush. Is this post defamatory? How do you know? Did the sex actually happen? If so, how do you verify that? (Remember, if it's true, it's not defamatory.) If it didn't happen, is it defamatory? If so, which party is it defamatory to?

    This isn't just a matter of scale, but rather one of knowledge. You can't know what someone else (or rather *everyone else*) is going to think about everything that could possibly be posted.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    A Guy (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 1:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: No good option

    Me too

    It would probably be more cost effective for facebook to wait for a law to be passed, pull out of India, and then troll any competitor that tries to take its place with said law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2011 @ 1:34pm

    India should merge with China. They'd get their censorship then. Or the US with how we are going lately.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Greg G, Dec 5th, 2011 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Their ideal system...

    eight months, two weeks, and seven days.

    Wouldn't that be like, eight months, 3 weeks, 0 days?, he asked in a non-disparaging way...

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Dec 5th, 2011 @ 2:57pm

    Re: Re: Their ideal system...

    Yeah, I figured someone would comment on that. I was just pulling numbers out of my ass without paying attention to how illogical it is - kind of like the entertainment industry calculates its losses due to piracy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2011 @ 4:30pm

    Good idea: Have such an amazing president that anyone insulting him looks like an idiot.
    Bad idea: Have such a stupid president that you have to blackmail communications platforms into suppressing dissent to keep his reputation from tanking.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Dec 5th, 2011 @ 6:16pm

    What he wants

    > The end effect in this case, would almost certainly be the
    > end of any kind of user-generated content system in India.
    > Is that really what Sibal wants?

    Why yes, as a matter of fact it is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anubhav Chattoraj, Dec 5th, 2011 @ 8:39pm

    Re: No good option

    3, 3, definitely 3.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Indian_anti-corruption_movement
    This spooked the government pretty badly; they had no idea how to deal with it. And social media played a key role in these protests. So now Sibal's gotten the brilliant idea of shutting down the web.

    Meanwhile, two civil wars continue to rage in the country, a state continues its futile attempts to repeal martial law, and the national Parliament continues to be deadlocked (as it has been over a year now) over issues of no importance.
    Bharat Mata ki Jai.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous non-Coward, Dec 7th, 2011 @ 7:44pm

    What about analyzing the backlash/responses?

    I've always admired the manner in which techdirt covers the topics. How about going over the responses by the googles/facebooks/yahoos to this? Also some of the tweets and blogs by who's who of India's under-represented cyber-presence would be a great addition.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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