Following the recent hullabaloo over social network filtering is another episode that has triggered anger among Indians, and this time it is a row over showing the Golden Temple as wealth of a U.S. presidential candidate, citing that it hurt the religious sentiments of Indians. After NBC aired an episode of Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Zee Café, an Indian television was quick enough to show the reruns. The gag displayed presidential candidate, Mitt Romney’s wealth, which has now led to a lawsuit by the U.S. Sikhs. An Indian-American in California has sued the talk show host for 'racist' comments on the Golden Temple by calling the holy place, a vacation home. A Sikh rights group has lodged a complaint with a federal agency to take action against Leno and NBC channel.
Sued for hurting religious sentiments (Image Credit: Reuters)
Zee along with other broadcasters took off the content, but Indians curious enough to know the joke turned to Google’s YouTube that displays the 8 second clip, reports Bloomberg. Although TV channels have taken out the content, Internet companies reportedly are refusing to follow suit. With government already in talks with Internet companies over the content they display, could this lead to banning of popular sites in India? China has already banned Facebook, Twitter and other social sites, while also banning Google searches on sensitive topics. The government and companies have been in talks, since September, but haven’t reached a consensus, yet. While pre-screening content seems a tough task as the question arises who gets to decide whether specific content is derogatory or not? However, one also needs to know where to draw the line before making personal, religious or other remarks on such public platforms.
“The TV channels here are going the extra mile to ensure that government regulation is kept at bay,” said Sevanti Ninan, whose media-watchdog blog, thehoot.org, is funded by groups including the Ford Foundation and United Nations. “It enables them to say that the government has no reason to regulate.”
Google said that it has taken off content, which was said to be objectionable from its Indian domains after an order from a New Delhi district judge in a civil suit. In its transparency report earlier, Google disclosed that government had demanded the omission of 358 items. These social media or YouTube postings were critical to the government. Google also said that requests from authorities to take off politically sensitive posts have been on the rise. The Search giant has denied requests from a law-enforcement agency that has demanded to cut 236 postings that are critical to a certain politician, as it doesn’t violate laws.