Internet firms want panel to screen web content



Internet firms want panel to screen web content Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Amid a raging controversy over policing of the online content, the Internet giants on Thursday objected to the government's move to censor web content.

According to reports, the representatives of the internet giants, including Google, Microsoft and Facebook, today made their displeasure known to the government about its intention to screen offensive and provocative web content during a meeting with Union Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal on the issue.

The Telecom Minister had called the meeting seeking help from the Internet firms to formulate content guidelines for social networking sites. Minister of State for Communication and IT Sachin Pilot as well as Department of Telecom Secretary K Chandrashekhar were also present at the meeting.

The representatives of the internet firms suggested that instead of government censorship, there should be an independent committee comprising of private players who can take a call on whether content is offensive and harmful to national interest or not.

"The meeting was to discuss how through social media the government can be empowered. Social media platforms are a huge space. It will help the government to be empowered through citizens," Sibal later told reporters.

He further said the reach of the social media is enormous, but those who use the social media are limited, so it should not be that the government represents the point of view of a certain section of society.

Sibal said he asked the social network representatives, "How does the social media use its own platform to ensure that the voice of the marginalised is heard by government, which otherwise sometimes is not heard?"

"So in other words, we want a constructive dialogue that helps them to empower us when we move forward in our decision-making," he added.

Asked whether discussion took place with regard to monitoring of defamatory and derogatory content on the internet, he did not respond.

Last week, Sibal met with officials from Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo after offensive material, particularly against Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was hosted on these sites.

He had asked the social networking websites to ensure that uploading of derogatory material is stopped.

Sibal maintained that the government does not want to interfere with the press, but if the social networking sites are not willing to cooperate with the government on stopping incendiary material, appropriate steps will be taken.