October 25, 2014 09:24 UTC

Science & Technology

India Defends Moves Against Social Media

Read, listen and learn English with this story. Double-click on any word to find the definition in the Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary.

Protesters in India in JuneProtesters in India in June
x
Protesters in India in June
Protesters in India in June

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story
This is the VOA Special English Technology Report.
 
The government in India is defending itself against charges of Internet censorship. The move comes after the government last week asked companies like Facebook and Twitter to block more than three hundred websites.
 
Officials accused the websites of posting edited images and videos of earthquake victims. They said the websites falsely claimed that the images were Muslim victims caught in recent ethnic conflict in India’s northeastern Assam state and Burma. A number of the images were reportedly uploaded from Pakistan.
 
Officials said the panic that resulted caused thousands of Hindu immigrants to flee the area. They feared that Muslims would answer the false reports with attacks of their own.
 
Cyber law expert, lawyer Pawan Duggal says this is the first time the Internet and mobile-phone technology have been used to create fear in a community.
 
PAWAN DUGGAL: “India has to wake up to the need for putting cyber security as the number-one priority for the nation. Unfortunately, India does not even have a national cyber-security policy. The nation does not have any plan of action, should this kind of emergency happen again. India needs to have its own cyber army of cyber warriors.”
 
On Friday, India’s Communication and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal dismissed charges that the government is trying to censor social media. But he said the misuse of social media has to be prevented.  
 
Pranesh Prakash is program manager at the Bangalore-based Center for Internet and Society. He says some of the Web pages that have been blocked included official news websites.
 
PRANESH PRAKASH: “I am not questioning the motivations of the government which in this current case seemed to be above board. We found that most of the material that they have complained about is actually stuff that is communal. But I do feel that the government went overboard in doing so, that it has also curbed legitimate reportage.” 
 
He says some of the websites were uploaded by people trying to let others know that the images were false.
 
The government in India has called on social media companies to come up with a plan to keep offensive material off the Web. Last year, it passed a law that requires companies to remove so-called “objectionable content” when requested to do so.
 
A Google Transparency report says that last year India topped the list of countries that make such requests. Supporters of online freedom have expressed concern that India may be restricting Web freedom.
 
About one hundred million people in India use the Internet -- the third-largest number of net users in the world. About seven hundred million people have mobile phones.
 
And that's the VOA Special English Technology Report. I'm Steve Ember.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Zabl from: Russia
08/30/2012 1:45 PM
I very concerned that our government too will accept such law.


by: BIJU.P.Y. from: SOUTH INDIA
08/29/2012 3:46 PM
Every country is bound to keep her own security, integrity and dignity intact. India is no exception. Moreover, India has been long known as an ethnological museum. Facts being so, it must have been a long cherished dream of militants and religious intolerants to malignate India's ethnological fabric. Such conscious efforts to pull down a country can be checked only by collective action. The internet providers must therefore join hands with India in her effort to defend her own dignity and stability. Thank you.


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
08/28/2012 7:36 AM
It is crucial for civilians that freedom of reportage should be preserved. But it seems also crucial for gevernment that false and agitative informations should be regulated in order to keep national peace. In this case, India looks like faithful because it tries to regulate websites after legislation of ciber security laws. I suppose the country which tops the list of intelligence control is China. It may be more wicked because it has no legislation and controles websites more intentionaly according to both central government's and officials' benefits.


by: Cultural Critic from: U.S
08/27/2012 3:14 AM
I don't think that government censorship is the only form of censorship to be concerned about. I believe that Google is covertly censoring webpages on its own accord rather than at the behest of governments. I've created a subreddit where people can report cases of covert censorship. My subreddit is at /r/googlecensorship on Reddit.


by: Manda Ginjiro from: Japan
08/25/2012 11:44 PM
The internet companies providing something like free talk area should check uploaded information. They have responsibility to check and report.

Learn with The News

  • Audio Wealth, Poverty Are Issues in Hong Kong Protests

    The pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong are mainly about the right to vote without interference from China’s central government. But there are at least two other less talked-about issues. One is concern about the rising cost of living in Hong Kong. Another is the gap between rich and poor. More

  • Texas Voter ID

    Audio US Supreme Court Allows Texas Voter ID Law

    The United States Supreme Court says the southwestern state of Texas can keep in place a new voting law. The law says voters must show identification documents before they are permitted to mark ballots. A lower court had ruled that the law could keep minorities from voting. More

  • President Barack Obama hugs Dallas nurse Nina Pham as her mother Diane looks on, Oval Office, Washington, Oct. 24, 2014.

    Audio In US, Fear of Ebola Spreads Faster than Virus

    For Americans, Ebola started out as a disease in a far-away continent. But it changed when a Liberian man died in Dallas. US officials said tests show that a New York doctor has the Ebola virus. The doctor recently treated Ebola patients in Guinea working for Doctors Without Borders. More

  • Brazil Elections

    Audio Who Will Be Brazil's Next President?

    Brazilians will choose a president Sunday. Two candidates will be on the ballot -- Dilma Rousseff and Senator Aecio Neves. President Rousseff won the most votes in the first round of voting earlier this month. But she did not win a majority of votes, so a runoff election is required. More

  • Audio Gunman Identified in Canadian Capital

    Also, UN human rights officials have called on China to guarantee open elections in Hong Kong. And, an attack in southwest Pakistan kills 11 people. WHO advises against Ebola travel bans. | In the News More

Featured Stories

  • Audio Oscar de la Renta Dressed First Ladies and Movie Stars

    Clothing designer Oscar de la Renta died Monday at his home in the American state of Connecticut. He was 82 years old. His wife said he died of problems related to cancer. Mr. de la Renta dressed American movie stars and first ladies such as Jacqueline Kennedy, Nancy Reagan and Hillary Clinton. More

  • Audio Iron Ships Clash at Sea

    The American Civil War was fought not only on land, but at sea. In 1862, Confederate and Union forces fought a new kind of navy battle in waters off Hampton Roads, Virginia. It was the first battle between iron ships. On the Confederate side was a ship called the Virginia. | The Making of a Nation More

  • Audio San Francisco Radio Stations Ban Lorde's 'Royals'

    The California baseball team, San Francisco Giants, is playing the Kansas City Royals for the 2014 Major League Baseball championship, the World Series. Two radio stations in San Francisco banned the hit song "Royals." In return, another station in Kansas City chose to play the song once every hour. More

  • A neurovascular unit on a chip being developed by Vanderbilt University researchers. (Vanderbilt University Photo/John Wikswo)

    Video Scientists Design Chips to Act Like Human Organs

    Testing new drugs for safety and effectiveness is a costly process in the United States. It also can take a lot of time. Some scientists are now designing silicon computer chips that act like human organs. The scientists think they have found a way to make the process faster and more economical. More

  • Brain Resource Infographic

    Audio Dealing with Distractions and Overreactions

    Five million American children and teenagers have Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD. ADHD makes it difficult - if not impossible - to stay with a duty until it is complete. Katherine Ellison knows the problem well. | Health Report More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs