IAMAI In Charge Of Identifying Objectionable Internet Content: Minister
In an interesting move, Government has given the task of identification of objectionable content on the internet to Industry body IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India). Indian Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad announced this in today’s parliament session.
Prasad told Rajya Sabha members, “Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), an association of content providers, has been mandated to prepare a list of objectionable sites, particularly pornographic websites, available on Internet.” He went on to say that these identified sites will be considered for disabling.
What this means is Indian Government is now looking at banning pornographic sites accessible in India. Banning of adult sites has been on cards for few years now. Every now and then, this topic comes up and the center has shown inclination to ban it. However, apart from some rare cases it has never happened at mass level.
Now that this task of identifying websites with objectionable content has been given to IAMAI, things have got interesting. One has to note that Google India Managing Director Rajan Anandan is the Chairman of IAMAI, while Facebook’s India Chief Kirthiga Reddy is the Vice Chairman of the body. Both the companies staunchly stand for un-censored and open internet. Given this background, it is interesting that they have been given the responsibility of coming up with the list of sites that are going to be banned. Other IAMAI members are all part of Indian subsidiaries of leading Internet companies in the world.
While more details are not forthcoming, what needs to be seen is whether the list created by IAMAI is a “watch list” or a “ban list”. The minister has further said, “Government takes action, whenever sites/URL pages with objectionable contents infringing any law of the country are brought to its notice by law enforcement agencies, or when court issues direction to block any URL of websites.”
Without going into details of existing (very abstract) internet laws, a site can be currently banned in India, if they are breaking any laws or are in someway are a threat to national security. Last year Government had banned 32 sites including come well known sites like Vimeo, Dailymotion, Github and others, and they were restored back as soon as Govt requested changes were made.
So, as far as we understand, the list that IAMAI has been tasked with making is probably just a “Watch List” that authorities will keep a closer eye on.
We will update the post as we get more details on this!