India Will Not Censor Social Media Websites

March 24, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. guideline (n.) – set of  instructions or principles that guide a certain action
ExampleGuidelines should be considered to keep the contest fair.

2. block (v.) – to stop or prevent one to enter a certain area
Example: Security guards block the bank vaults for safety.

3. comply (v.) – to obey one’s rules or commands
Example: Passengers need to comply with rules to prevent accidents.

4. feasible (adj.) – can be done or capable of being accomplished
Example: With enough budget, the new project is very feasible.
5. contradict (v.) – to say or do the opposite
Example: Unfair rules contradict a person’s freedom.

Read the text below.

India’s Information Technology Minister, Kapil Sibal, said the government will not block social media websites in India. However, he believes Internet firms must still follow the country’s media laws.

Last year, the Indian government introduced new guidelines, which make Internet companies responsible for the content of their sites. According to Sibal, the rules would make sure offensive materials are not posted on the Internet.

But some people fear the guidelines will lead to full blocking of sites and free speech. In January, the Delhi High Court required Internet firms such as Facebook and Google India to check and remove offensive materials, especially those that offend religious groups, from their websites. The court said these firms must comply, or else they would have the sites blocked, like what was done in China. 

The two web companies are part of 21 Internet firms accused of allowing materials that may cause “public unrest” to be posted on their websites.

Sibal, however, stresses the government is not involved in such court cases, and that the cases are between the Internet companies and individual citizens. He says the government is only concerned that websites follow the same laws as other print and electronic media.

Meanwhile, Google and Facebook said they have complied with court orders by removing inappropriate content. But with billions of uploads from people around the world, Internet companies say it is not feasible to check every post or prevent people from uploading materials.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you agree with government censorship of websites?
·         What ways can be done to make sure bad information does not spread online?

Discussion B

·         How important is freedom of speech?
·         What should be the limits of this freedom?


March 24, 2012