Free speech Tracker|
|Won't censor social media: Sibal|
Telecom and IT Minister Kapil Sibal on Thursday said the government had no plans to censor the contents on social networking websites. After a meeting with Internet firms like Google, Facebook and Twitter, the minister said the government was trying to find ways to use these social media platforms effectively to reach out to the masses.
The discussion came a few days after Sibal asked Internet firms to ensure that no defamatory and incendiary material are uploaded in their platforms.
"This dialogue is about how the social media can empower the government," Sibal told media persons after the meeting.
"Because under the normal processes, there are not enough means for government to engage in dialogues with representatives of society. But with the social media platforms, there is a huge expansion of scope to bridge this gap," he added.
The meeting was also attended by various government departments, including the Ministry of External Affairs and the Department of Information and Technology.
Following the discussions in on Thursday's meeting, the government plans to come up with a new guideline for use of social media by government organizations and officials. The guidelines, to be devised by the Department of Information Technology, would talk about how the government departments could select the right social platforms to reach the masses.
The guidelines are expected to be out by next month.
The draft note on usage of social media had been put on the website of Department of IT in September 2011.
An official present at the meeting said there were pages of Finance Ministry and other government departments on the Web. "The government is trying to find out how they can talk to the citizens in one homogenised voice," he added.
During the deliberations, the government officials were also keen on knowing whether an applicant under Right To Information can ask what a Minister or official Tweeted or posted on his/her walls months back.
Sibal also asked the social network representatives how the social media used its own platform to ensure that the voice of the marginalised is heard by government, which otherwise sometimes is not heard.
Last week, Sibal had met with officials from Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo and had complained about offensive material on their websites.
On Thursday, Sibal's deputy, Minister of State for IT Sachin Pilot said the government had made it abundantly clear that there was "no question" of censorship of the internet. "Whatever laws and guidelines had to be drafted, that have been done. Law of the land is in place," he added.