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Web has not blocked offensive content: Sibal

Dec 09, 2011 01:11 PM IST India India

New Delhi: Union Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal on Friday reiterated that the move to monitor the Internet has been taken to keep out content that are vulgar, demeaning and insulting. Speaking to Karan Thapar on Devil's Advocate, Sibal argued that such content could lead to riots and so were unacceptable.

"The content on Internet was vulgar, demeaning and insulting. It could lead to riots. The contents hurt the religious sentiments. On September 5 we raised the issue with the Internet companies. Till October 3 no one replied. We tried three times to contact them, but nobody replied," said Sibal.

He said that the "platforms broadly agreed to some points and also disagreed with something with us in a meeting" but have failed to control content which is offensive by their own standards.

Commenting on the move to screen social networking websites he said that social media platform should judge and screen the content according to their own standards.

"There cannot be any pre-screening of content in electronic and social media. We want screening of content after it is uploaded. The platforms are failing to live up to the law that they are themselves enforcing in their own country," he said.

He refuted allegations that the Government was trying to censor the Internet.

"It was never my intent to interfere with the content that goes up on the Internet. I wanted to have a dialogue. We will defend any citizen's right to speech to the last breath, but we don’t want this kind of content. The intent of the Government is quite clear, but if these web platforms have thrown up their hands, we have to issue guidelines. I want the solution today and not wait for a long legal procedure. Any legal remedy will be absolutely impractical. Whatever I have said does not say anything about regulation and restricting. I only want some monitoring of content," he said.

Sibal also said that the New York Times article on December 5 that he had had summoned Facebook officials over a page that had objectionable content on Congress President Sonia Gandhi, was written without talking to him and was not correct.

"I have no idea how New York Times got to know about the entire negotiation between the social media platforms and us," he said.