No question of Internet censorship, assures govt

Amid the controversy over screening of online content, the Centre on Thursday held talks with Google, Facebook and Twitter representatives.

The government sought their opinion on effective use of their platforms but asserted there was no question of censorship of Internet, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said after the meeting.

Asked if any mechanism to regulate Internet content was on the anvil, Sachin Pilot, MoS for Communication and IT, said, "There is no question of censorship of Internet... Whatever laws have to be made are already in place. The government is committed to abiding by what is there according to the Constitution...which is freedom of speech and expression. We protect that with a lot of energy."

Sibal said Thursday's talks focussed on how social media "can empower government" because "under the normal processes of government, there is always limited dialogue with representatives of society as the means are limited".

"How does social media use its own platform to ensure that the voice of the marginalised is heard by government, which otherwise sometimes is not heard?" Sibal said. "So in other words, we want a constructive dialogue that helps them to empower us when we move forward in our decision-making."

In an "effort to increase the trust of citizens in online environment", Sibal noted, and to "enable various government agencies to choose appropriate authentication mechanism", the Department of IT had in September conceptualised the e-Pramaan framework for authentication of public services.

Source said the telecom ministry was mulling setting up an inter-ministerial group to frame a mechanism to monitor and avoid uploading of any defamatory material on Internet.

The meeting assumes significance in view of the fact that India, for the first time, is hosting The World Information Technology Forum, a unique global forum initiated by the International Federation for Information Processing under the auspices of UNESCO, in April 2012. Sibal is the chairperson of the forum.

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