No intention to interfere in social media: Sibal

Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal on Friday said the government has no intention of "interfering" with the social media.

Updated: Dec 09, 2011, 18:13 PM IST

New Delhi: After the furore over his statement
on content monitoring on Internet, Telecom Minister Kapil
Sibal on Friday said the government has no intention of
"interfering" with the social media, nor does its plan to
evolve guidelines amounting to restriction or regulation.

He said the industry should develop a set of guidelines
for screening of objectionable content after it is uploaded.
"Whatever I have said in the press or during the
interview does not amount to restriction or regulation. It is
evolving a consensus that is acceptable to media...It is not
my intent ever to interfere with social media in whatsoever
form," Sibal told a private TV channel.

"I wanted them (Internet companies) to form their own
guidelines by their own standards. The intent from the
government is that we want them to take the action," he added.

Sibal said he will meet Internet majors like Google and
Facebook on December 15 for formulating guidelines for
monitoring content on social media platforms and removal of
objectionable content from websites.

"We will have a discussion, a round-table on 15 of this
month.... We will ask for suggestions...Those guidelines will
be in the public domain," he said.

Addressing reporters on December 6, Sibal had said social
websites need to ensure that uploading of derogatory material
is stopped.

He had said if the social networking sites are not
willing to cooperate with the government on stopping
incendiary material, "then it is the duty of the government to
think of steps that we need".
"There cannot be a pre-screening of content on the
electronic media and social media. Can you pre-screen the
content that appears on your own channel? It cannot be. Its
madness for us to even ask for that. And we did not," Sibal

Maintaining that the government is not in favour of
censorship, Sibal said he had met the company officials and
asked them to formulate a set of guidelines.

"On September 5, we raised this issue and we circulated
some of the content which was blasphemous. We said, start a
dialogue and come back to us within 4 weeks. Then on October
3, because the material did not come to us, we wrote to them
saying that let us meet up as quickly as possible, because you
have to come up with certain solutions," Sibal said.

He added that the Ministry wrote to the companies on
October 13 again, but failed to get a response, following
which the Department of Information Technology Secretary
called a meeting on November 3 to resolve the issue.

"Then, on November 29, I called a meeting and I said
three months have passed and you have yet to come up with some
sort of a solution...I fixed December 5 as the date for final
response," Sibal said.

However, the companies did not come up with any solution
by that date either, he added. "On December 5, they threw up
their hands and they said we cannot come up with any kind of
solution on it and we will apply US Community standards to
you," Sibal said.

He said that he had asked the companies to remove content
which is offensive as per their standards.

"I wanted a solution, a dialogue with them to come on the
same platform as us and deal with this issue in a sensible,
responsible manner," he added.