Govt not targetting individual accounts, websites: Sibal

The government today sought to downplay its action in the cyberworld in the wake of problems in the northeast, saying it is not targetting individual accounts and websites but wants to block objectionable content.

Minister of Communications and IT Kapil Sibal said the government is ready to hold discussions with stakeholders to find a "permanent solution" to the issue.

"The difficulty is that Twitter is a site, which operates from outside India and the server of all such sites are outside the jurisdiction of India... they have said that they are ready for talks with us. But the solution to this problem should be a permanent one," Sibal said in an official statement.

The government has received widespread criticism from netizens for allegedly trying to block individual accounts on microblogging website Twitter.

"That will only happen when we talk to all the stakeholders and form such a mechanism under which any objectionable content is removed," he added.

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) had complained that six accounts on microblogging site Twitter were carrying content with "communal overtones", which could be mistaken as the official account of the Prime Minister and should therefore be removed.

There were also reports that the government has asked Internet service providers to block select 16 Twitter accounts, including that of some journalists.

Twitter, on its part has replied that it has "removed the reported profile(s) from circulation due to violation of our Terms of Service regarding impersonation".

The government had ordered blocking of 310 webpages where morphed and inflammatory contents were uploaded allegedly with the aim to incite Muslims in India leading to the mass exodus of people of the northeastern region from places in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

Sibal said social networking site Facebook and Google are cooperating with the government and the names of objectionable sites provided to them were closed down.

Talking about Twitter, Sibal said, "We can take action but in that case, restrictions are also imposed on people who are right on their part. So, we don't want that to happen.
So, we have provided 28 URL numbers under which objectionable material is being shown. Now, the government does not know that who is behind these URL numbers, only Twitter and other sites are aware about it."

He added that since the government doesn't know the identities of these URLs (internet addresses), the accusations that it is "aggressively" targeting individual accounts or websites are incorrect.

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