'Impossible to pre-screen Internet content'
New Delhi: With the government stepping up scrutiny of Internet postings, independent computer security consultant Ankit Fadia feels pre-screening of content is an impossible ask and the best way out to block objectionable matter is constitution of a regulatory authority.
The 28-year-old ethical hacker, who has come out with his book "How to Unblock Everything on the Internet", hopes the government does not go the China way "which is employing 40,000 people just to block websites on a daily basis".
"There are two issues over controlling content. First, if the government wants to block or ban websites completely, then it is a step away from democracy because that is against freedom of speech and information," Fadia said.
"And secondly, the government is saying that it wants Facebook, Twitter and Google to pre-screen content before these are posted online. From a technology point of view this is impossible because a huge amount of information is generated. There is also no software available that can understand what a photograph or a video mean and decide whether it is objectionable, legal or illegal. So I don't think pre-screening is possible at all," he says.
"As far as post-screening is concerned, if any offensive content is detected online, then the government and the social network should work together to remove the objectionable content."
"As of now there is already a medium available. If there is any offensive content on Facebook, one can report it as abuse. If many people report the content as abuse then
Facebook automatically removes the content. Also there is a legal channel available. If there are not enough people to report a content as abuse, then one could always go to the court."
According to Fadia, some middle ground has to be found.
"Right now the problem is that Facebook, Google and Twitter are American companies and they have offices in India.
So any communication has to be routed through the Indian offices and it takes time. I think there should be a regulatory authority for the Internet in India that will decide the criteria which in turn will decide what is offensive or not and find a way so that the websites can respond to any objection on content raised by the authority within a limited amount of time," he says.
"How to Unblock Everything on the Internet" teaches simple things to unblock access to social networking sites, video streaming sites, chat software, download and speed limits and even torrents.
Fadia has authored 14 best-selling books on numerous topics related to computer security. His books have been translated into Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Polish and are also being used as reference textbooks in some of the most prestigious academic institutions around the world.
He has also led several investigations pertaining to national security and cyber terrorism.
In November 2001, Fadia was consulted by a classified intelligence agency for breaking an encrypted message sent by one of Osama Bin Laden's men. Since then, he has been involved in numerous classified projects pertaining to cyber terrorism and crime.