UPDATE: Facebook stated that it understands India's online content concerns. According to Reuters, the social network said that they will remove any content that violates their terms, which include “material that is hateful, threatening, incites violence or contains nudity.” India has also said that the motive behind this action is not censorship.

The latest move by the government in their apparent communications fear (Skype and BBM threats anyone?) ,now targets the social networks. Don't forget though, that they wanted to monitor social networks, back in August. But now, they want online services like Facebook and Google to literally hire people to censor out posts that might be defamatory or inflammatory. According to the New York Times officials from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook met with Kapil Sibal, the Minister of Communications and Information Technology yesterday afternoon to discuss the matter.

Sibal wants a 'censorship board' for the social networks

Sibal wants a 'censorship board' for the social networks

Sibal had met with these executives about six weeks ago and showed them a Facebook page on which there were negative views on Sonia Gandhi, the Congress party's president. He told them in another meeting in late November that human beings should be filtering content that is defamatory. Of course, the officials from the companies have stated their concerns at how impossible a task this is for human beings to discern whether a comment is inflammatory, defamatory or otherwise disparaging given the volume of content that is generated from this country.

This is clearly an example of how laws to moderate the web space have not been thought through and by setting up a 'task force' of humans to filter content, or even if algorithms were set up to monitor content, if Sibal is successful in his mission, it could infringe upon our right to freedom of speech and expression. The reluctance of the companies themselves is a good sign, but hopefully the Indian government does not threaten to ban these online services, if they do not comply.

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