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?

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Companies: facebook, google, microsoft, yahoo

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Comments on “India Says Google & Facebook Should Prescreen All User Generated Content To Stop Jerks”

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37 Comments
Hulser (profile) says:

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.

Anubhav Chattoraj says:

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.

out_of_the_blue says:

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.

MrWilson says:

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!

Trails (profile) says:

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.

Mike42 (profile) says:

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.

Ron (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

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