Tuesday, December 06, 2011

India to ban "offensive material" from the Internet

Now I wonder how India is going to accomplish this:

Communications Minister Kapil Sibal said talks with the Internet giants had failed to come up with a solution following complaints that he had lodged three months ago over "unacceptable" images.
OMG! The Intertubes has images that someone finds unacceptable? SHOCK! HORROR! Please, quickly, tell me more!

Sibal said the government supported free speech and was against censorship but that some material on the Internet was so offensive that no one would find it acceptable.

Sibal showed some of the offending material to journalists, including fake images of naked politicians and religious figures.
So, this looks like the old: I'm all for free speech. Except for the kind that I don't like and the kind that religious people don't like. Otherwise, I'm all for free speech.
"Three months back we saw that Google, Yahoo!, Facebook had images which could be an insult to Indians, especially religious-minded people," Sibal said.

Sibal said the firms had shown that their "intention was not to cooperate" and that they had explained they were only "platforms" on which people could display material.

"I feel that this in principle was not correct but it is very clear that we will not allow such insults to happen. We are thinking and will take the next step," he said. "We will not allow our cultural ethos to be hurt."
Is it just me, or does this sound like something akin to Ted Stevens claim of the internet being, "a series of tubes"? In other words, it's a totally incorrect idea about what the Internet is. And if it is, then this explanation will not be accepted, because it fundamentally will not (and possibly cannot) be understood by the person lodging the claim:
The Hindustan Times on Tuesday said the Internet companies had rejected Sibal's appeal for screening, saying a huge volume of information was uploaded on to the Internet and that they were not responsible for judging its content.
Luckily, the Internet-savvy population of India (set to grow to 600 million - twice the population of the United States - by 2016) aren't having any of it:
Sibal's call for Internet screening quickly attracted a storm of criticism on Twitter, with many users expressing anger over any attempt to restrict usage.
I would have preferred laughter and mocking. I think that it's so much more effective than criticism. I mean, Ted Stevens - for all that he might have done well by Alaska - is now going to be remembered (by those who saw it and understood it to be an inglorious revelry in his fundamental lack of understanding what the Internet was) with mirth as the "Internet is a series of tubes".

UPDATE (2012/12/08): The US is stepping in (well... kind of):
"We are concerned about any effort to curtail freedom of expression on the Internet," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters, while carefully avoiding any direct criticism of proposals in India.

Toner said that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would speak at length about Internet freedom in an address Friday in The Hague.

No comments: