The Slippery Slope Of Internet Censorship In India
from the and-how-companies-have-to-deal-with-it dept
Slashdot points us to a WSJ article that focuses on how Google is dealing with censorship laws in India, by taking down certain content and complying with local laws. While it is disappointing that Google appears to be willing to simply accept, rather than question, some of those laws, the bigger issue may be with the laws themselves. As the WSJ details:
The nation of 1.2 billion is the world’s largest democracy and in principle affords free speech to its citizens. But the country has a volatile mix of religious, ethnic and caste politics and a history of mob violence. So, the government has the authority to curtail speech rights in certain cases. India’s Constitution encapsulates that gray zone: Free speech is subject to “reasonable restrictions” for such purposes as maintaining “public order, decency or morality.”
Authorities say Internet companies in India, including Yahoo Inc., Facebook Inc. and Twitter, are expected to help government enforce those standards online by removing objectionable material and, occasionally, helping to track down users. Under a law that took effect in October, corporate officials from any Web site that fails to comply with requests to take down material or block sites can face a fine and a jail sentence of up to seven years.
But how is a site like Google to know when speech is “objectionable” or when it’s just “disliked by someone in power”? That’s why “reasonable restrictions” on free speech often present a pretty dangerous slippery slope. It’s hard to blame Google for this, however. It’s likely that most internet companies in India are complying with the law. The real question should be whether or not the law itself makes sense.