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Not possible to censor the Web, says Google’s chief business officer

Zafar Anjum | Jan. 27, 2012
It is not possible for Google to monitor everything on its website, said its chief business officer Nikesh Arora in Davos, according to a report.

Google's chief business officer Nikesh Arora said in Davos it was not possible for the company to monitor everything on its website, according to a NDTV report.

Arora was commenting on the controversy in India over objectionable content posted on its website and the legal battle it has led to.

Google is among the 21 companies that have been dragged to court in India for allegedly hosting obscene and objectionable content. The legal trouble for companies including Orkut, Yahoo and YouTube started after a Delhi resident Vinay Rai filed a petition in court against obscene depictions of Hindu deities, the Prophet Mohammed and Jesus Christ on the Internet sites in early January. The court then suggested that the executives of these 21 companies be tried for criminal conspiracy.

The companies have challenged the summons in the High Court. The next hearing is due on 2 February.

"We cannot censor the Web. We cannot censor the ability of people to express themselves around the world," Nikesh Arora told NDTV on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum at Davos. "I think what we are trying to explain is the enormity of what is being asked. You are asking not just to censor the Web in India, you are asking to censor the entire World Wide Web. The Web has no borders. I think some of the things are done a bit too hastily for our liking. And we will like to have real conversation around some of these issues and we feel some engagement has happened but we prefer more dialogue before people rush to take action on what I believe is not a fully formed idea. I think the idea of censoring everything and pre-clearing everything is going to fundamentally, sort of, taint the growth of the Indian economy in India and vis-a-vis the world," he added.

The government decision to drag Internet companies to court over censoring content triggered public anger in the country. Netizens in India said the move was tantamount to clamping down on constitutional rights of free speech and individual liberty.

When the companies appealled against this in the High Court, it warned that like China, India too could choose to ban these websites, the NDTV report noted.

Earlier, on 24 January, Sam Pitroda, the man who heralded the telecom revolution in India, said in an interview to The Economic Times: "Nobody can control the Internet. It is impossible. We cannot go the China way. Even China is not going the 'China way'. It is finding it difficult controlling the Net."

"The problem crops up because the older generation wants to impose its values on the younger generation," he said. "I always tell the youth not to listen to the stifling values of the old. If someone wants some content, who are we to control him or her. Instead, India should have its own locally relevant social networks."


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