It appears Indian politicians do not really have a funny bone after all. They do not appear to be able to tolerate jokes made at their expense and circulated on the Internet.
A court in the country threatened, on Thursday, to block social networking Web sites like Facebook and search engines like Google, unless they failed to crack down on offensive content, according to a BBC report. Specifically, the Delhi High Court said: Like China, we will block all such websites.
However, the BBC report goes on to add, given that there are over 100 million Internet users in the country, most Internet-based companies say such broad action is impossible.
In any case, the statements made by the Delhi High Court are not the first instances of their kind. Recently, a government official had criticized and accused certain Web sites of not cooperating in the detection and removal of such content.
Indian Communications Minister, Kapil Sibal, said in December to representatives of Google, Facebook and other social networking Web sites, the government would introduce guidelines to ensure blasphemous material did not appear on the Internet. The government's irritation, it could be, stems from several doctored photographs of the Prime Minister and the leader of the ruling Congress party, Sonia Gandhi, circulating on Web sites like Facebook.
Justice Suresh Kait, of the Delhi High Court, asked Facebook and Google India to develop a mechanism to keep a check (on) and remove offensive and objectionable material from their web pages, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.
The question, though, must be if it is at all possible to block content from networking sites.
Mukul Rohatgi, a lawyer for Google India, does not think so. According to him, obscene, objectionable and defamatory content cannot be filtered or monitored.
No human interference is possible and, moreover, it can't be feasible to check such incidents. Billions of people across the globe post their articles on the website. Yes, they may be defamatory, obscene but cannot be checked, Rohatgi was quoted as telling the court.
We cannot control billion minds. Some are conservative, some are liberal and some write all the defamatory and obnoxious articles on web pages. There is a procedure for getting them removed, he added.
Facebook issued a statement in December, saying it recognized the government's interest in minimizing the amount of abusive content on the internet and said that it does provide an option of reporting abusive content. Facebook has around 28 million users in India.
As many as 21 Web sites were summoned, in December, by a lower court to explain what measures they were taking to remove offensive content.