Micro-blogging site told to remove 30 web pages carrying inflammatory content

Talking tough to non-cooperating social networking websites, the Centre on Wednesday said it had given an ultimatum to micro-blogging site Twitter to remove around 30 web pages still carrying inflammatory content such as morphed pictures and fake videos or face penal action.

Minister for Communications and IT Kapil Sibal will be meeting National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, Intelligence Bureau Director Nehchal Sandhu and Electronics and IT Secretary J. Satyanarayana on Thursday, as the government aims to create an institutional mechanism to prevent the misuse of technology, which includes provision of punishment under Indian laws.

Following instructions from Home Secretary R.K. Singh, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEIT) has warned Twitter of a complete blackout for failing to block 28 web pages, despite specific orders from the government. So far, the government has ordered blocking of 310 web pages, of which action against 207 has already been taken.

Significantly, Twitter has also been asked to block at least six accounts that resemble the official web page of the Prime Minister’s Office, which carry objectionable content. The PMO has asked the DEIT’s Cyber Security Cell to block these accounts, as they had content having “communal overtones.”

Government sources said Twitter had officially conveyed to the PMO that it would cooperate and remove “unlawful content.” It has told the PMO that it could not take action earlier “because the government entity didn’t intimate through a proper procedure electronically to our system, and hence the request wasn’t located.”

At Thursday’s meeting, a strategy would be chalked out to monitor social networking sites so that they do not add to the problems during sensitive situations in the country, like the one witnessed on the northeast issue.

Talking of the government’s plan in this connection, Mr. Sibal said: “We have to make efforts in consultation with the websites and impress upon them to create an institutional mechanism to prevent the misuse of technology.”

“If there was misuse of technology, there should be provision for punishment… no such provisions are available at present. Now, we have to decide the steps we have to take under our laws on how we can take it forward, so that we can seek help from these websites in the coming days, and we can identify those who have misused these websites and punish them,” he added.

Mr. Sibal also pointed out that some websites had refused to share user information, arguing that they were beyond the jurisdiction of India as their web servers were located in some other countries. The government was contemplating action against such websites and companies for refusing to comply with Indian laws and regulations on this issue, he added.

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