Whether freedom to speech and expression really exists in the online space in India, is now debatable, after Communications and IT Minister, Kapil Sibal instructed Facebook and Google to monitor their content. Sibal's demands to Google and Facebook to hire censor police to their existing teams to filter out content has met with mixed reactions. While Facebook agreed to omit any sensitive content from their platform that could cause any unrest. Now, Google Transparency Report reveals that during the period of June-January 2011, the Government of India had asked Google to get rid of as many as 358 items, in all, across its services like YouTube, Orkut, Google Earth, Google Maps, and Panoramio, Blogger and Picasa Web Albums. The report has Google stating of all the 'content removal requests' that Google received throughout the June-January 2011 period, it complied partially or fully to only 51 percent of these requests. 

Sibal wants a 'censorship board' for the social networks

Trying to tame the social network 

The report states, “We received requests from state and local law enforcement agencies to remove YouTube videos that displayed protests against social leaders or used offensive language in reference to religious leaders. We declined the majority of these requests and only locally restricted videos that appeared to violate local laws prohibiting speech that could incite enmity between communities. In addition, we received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove 236 communities and profiles from orkut that were critical of a local politician. We did not comply with this request, since the content did not violate our Community Standards or local law.”

The content removal requests that Google received fell under categories, like: National Security, Privacy and Security, Defamation, Impersonation, Pornography, Hate Speech, Government Criticism and Others. Some figures that really stood out in the list of 'content removal requests', include Orkut, for which Google received orders to remove as many as 236 items, stating that these posts criticised the government, for YouTube, Google received 19 such requests. Interestingly, Google received only one content removal request for its popular Google Maps, and Panoramio, since it was found to be a threat to National Security. On a whole, Google received 39 'content removal requests' for defamation, 20 for Privacy and Security, 14 for Impersonation, 255 for Government Criticism, 1 for National Security, 3 for Pornography, 8 for Hate Speech and 18 for Other. 

You could read the entire report, here

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