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Monday, January 16, 2012

Court accuses Google, Facebook etc for 'Objectionable and Offensive' contents. Problems in Internet censorship, reality, solutions and viablity.

This blog post comes after the news that Indian court issues summons to Google, Facebook, Microsoft for 'objectionable content'.
You must have heard -
Indian court ruling against offensive content in facebook, google, yahoo etc
Google,Facebook,Yahoo charged for objectionable and offensive contents
Social networking websites warned to remove offensive contents, and
Internet censorship is a debate and technical problems are there, etc.

There are some authorities across the globe and now even Indian court that wants these (and 21 others) Internet companies to develop a (? Big question mark!!) mechanism to keep a check and remove from their Web pages those materials which are deemed 'offensive and objectionable'.

Someone please tell me with such a diverse cultural, regional, religional,politico,socio,economical richness of India, who can find what is objectionable and what is not. And then, at last, thanks to various civic bodies too, which may find anything objectionable even if it is passed by legislation, law, censor boards, and religious authorities. Let’s cut our talks and be focused towards the technical news and aspects.

A Delhi court sent a summons to the headquarters of foreign Internet companies including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Yahoo on Friday, in a private case against objectionable content online. It started with some RTI Activists who found religious content on the sites that he considered offensive, and filed a complaint with a Delhi court, prompting Additional Metropolitan Magistrate Sudesh Kumar to issue notices to 21 Internet sites in December. Henceforth, The magistrate has asked the foreign entities and Indian Internet companies mentioned in the complaint to appear before the court on March 13.

In addition, India's Information Technology Act requires intermediaries like Internet service providers to remove content that is found objectionable within a period of 36 hours of being notified of the content.

It has been warned that "Like China, we will block all such web sites,". This was said by High Court Judge Suresh Kait said.

News complete. And now the technical aspects.

With more than billions of Internet users let’s see what are problems:

1. Billions of Internet users around the globe
2. Thousands of cultural diversities across the globe
3. Millions of line posted every hour over the internet
4. Approximately 11 hours video upload every third minute across the globe
5. Tweets, status updates, messages, forwarding, comes in a real time environment. So who will keep track of these things
6. What is objectionable may not be objectionable for other and vice-versa
7. Age old problems like “Adult content removal” is still not successful, who the hell can develop an “Offensive content removal” system. Hat’s off to law making people. They think programming just like passing a bill in legislature, or just finding a mistake in law that could convict an innocent or help escape a murderer.
8. Google indexes websites by their webbots (crawlers). But now a filtered Indexing has to be done. So now thousands of daily complaints by webmasters will come, why their websites was not crawled.
9. Facebook has to re-invent ways to check status updates. Monitoring (manual efforts and decision making also reuired here) will make your status updates taking time to come.
10. DNS manipulations and proxy servers are very common these days and known to almost every informed internet user
11. Audio visual contents and text in images are still not possible to handle.
12. Any Language translations API is also not 100% successful till date
13. Bla bla bla
14. Bla bla bla
Seriously, do I need to reason out by logic? You all are better judges. Lets us all see what turn this Internet censorship would take.

Just to add a few comments -

a) In November 2007, "Father of the Internet" Vint Cerf stated that he sees government control of the Internet failing because the Web is almost entirely privately owned.

b) Time Magazine has quoted a big Computer scientist saying "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it."

And also a completely contradicting view to my post -
A 2011 report by researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute published by UNESCO concludes "... the control of information on the Internet and Web is certainly feasible, and technological advances do not therefore guarantee greater freedom of speech."

So, it is up to readers to decide how much optimistic should we be in terms of the feasibility and viability of a solution to offensive content removal. Keyword based filtering, firewall filtering, ISP controls, php/aspx solutions at real time websites etc won't help. Think of some another way. DNS manipulations, proxies, content in audio-video and images should also be kept in mind

Consider the vast amount of data already on servers of these big companies and enormous amount of content being generated every second. Remember well that -

The time you spend while reading this article must have been used by several people at several locations to generate several offensive contents for several societies in several languages over several internet portals. And be assured of several formats too!

Before ending I would like my readers to know what Wikipedia has in its store regarding this. It says - Internet censorship is the control or suppression of the publishing of, or access to information on the Internet. It may be carried out by governments or by private organizations either at the behest of government or on their own initiative. Individuals and organizations may engage in self-censorship on their own or due to intimidation and fear.
You can read more about Internet censorship at

I would again re-emphasize that the

Internet Censorship is wrong and devastating. We are still fortunate that it is a Fool's day prank. We may achieve it but those efficient programmers are in Mars. Find them and get the task done!

I would serious like readers to pour in some comments and help us understand the gravity of the problem and its solutions. But how about starting help with clicking on some advertisement links; They help me make money to understand pubs and discs; The place where I get inspirations to write more. lol;)


  1. Truely said. Awsome post man. I think technically not possible. plus one to your complete list of problems

  2. Thanks VVivia Fred !!
    Seems you really enjoyed.
    Your review would be helpful on few others articles too.
    Take care :)