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News Heading  : Code of conduct for social media: Indian politicians way too touchy about online image?

Post Date : 2011-12-07

News Source : Times Of India

News By : Caesar Mandal

News Details  :

Indian politicians appear too sensitive on how they're portrayed online. Why else would government agencies inundate Google - with an estimated 100 million users in India - with requests to remove content, especially those showing political leaders in bad light.

Kapil Sibal's suggestion for pre-screening online content may have sparked controversy today, but when it comes to post-screening law enforcement agencies in India have been active. They regularly approach Internet service providers to remove anything they deem "offensive" to politicians.

This fact is borne out by a Google report published recently and posted on its website. A year ago, between July and December, Google received 282 such requests from different Indian law enforcement agencies to remove content. The increasing flow of such requests continued in the next six months. To cap it, a single agency even asked Google to remove 236 communities and profiles from social networking site Orkut as they were "critical of a local politician." The extent of post screening can be gauged by a simple fact - Google was asked for "user data request" of 2,439 users in only the six months from January to June, this year. This is nearly a 1,000 more than those asked in the preceding six months.

The " Transparency Report" prepared by Google says that in the last half of 2009, it received 142 requests from law enforcement agencies to remove content. "The majority of Indian requests for removal of content from Orkut related to alleged impersonation or defamation," says the report.

"We don't keep vigil on political content. There are other agencies for it. We request the internet service provider to remove something only if we have a specific criminal complaint." said Damayanti Sen, Joint CP (Crime) of Kolkata Police. "We regularly correspond with these US-based Internet service providers, primarily for data needed in criminal investigations," said V V Thambi, DGP (crime). Such complaints, however, have now receded in Bengal after it once reached alarming proportions. Back in 2007, even then CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had no less than three fake orkut profiles which were removed after police wrote to Google.

What the officers didn't say is the fact that requests to Google related to government criticism have gone up manifold. Between January and June 2011, there were requests to remove 236 communities and 19 blogs from Orkut for containing criticism of the government while requests on impersonation and pornography totaled only 19. The Google report also revealed that in 2009, they complied with 77% of the requests. But in the last half of 2010, they agreed to remove only 22% as the company felt that content in most cases requested did not violate the community standards or local laws.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/news/internet/Code-of-conduct-for-social-media-Indian-politicians-way-too-touchy-about-online-image/articleshow/11012153.cms

 
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