Tuesday, August 21, 2012

India clamps down on "incendiary" websites, social media

The Washington Post, in a story by Rama Lakshmi on p. A6, reports that India has blocked over 250 websites and blocked some use of social media (including Twitter messages with more than five recipients), claiming that “incendiary content” sparked unrest and panic in rural northeastern India. Sites affected included some Muslim sites as well as someTube channels and other social media. 

The government also claimed that some videos incited riots by Muslims in Munbai recently.

The link is here

Although seemingly an outrage to free speech advocates, the government seems more legitimate, and perhaps so the security concerns in h affected regions, than in parallel situations in the past with the “Arab spring”.  There are perhaps genuine concerns of maintaining order and safety in more primitive areas like these.

India also seems to be imposing downstream liability on service providers, prohibiting them from hosting content that could be “harmful”, “blasphemous” or “insulting”.

In another story, a girl is in jail in Pakistan for allegedly burning or destroying pages from the Koran, but the actual facts seem to be in dispute.  

Update: Aug. 26

Gardiner Harris has an important story in the New York Times, "After violence in India, a crackdown online", which reports that content from established British newspapers and journalists, with no urging or violence, was blocked, and use of Twitter was "rationed".  The article goes into the "socialist" background of India's leaders and its effects on their thinking, here

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