India's censors have asked the impossible of Facebook, Google

And yet they’re about to ask again


How exactly does a representative of an American company tell a government official from a foreign country that he must be out of his mind?

Diplomatically, one would presume.

I ask because executives from Facebook, Google and other major Internet companies are slated to meet today with Kapil Sibal (right), India's acting telecommunications minister, and at that meeting Sibal is expected to reiterate a request he has made of these companies at least twice previously: That they read and approve or disapprove all content generated by their users in India before it is posted.

From this morning's New York Times:

At the (first) meeting, Mr. Sibal showed attendees a Facebook page that maligned the Congress Party's president, Sonia Gandhi.  "This is unacceptable," he told attendees, the executive said, and he asked them to find a way to monitor what is posted on their sites.

In the second meeting with the same executives in late November, Mr. Sibal told them that he expected them to use human beings to screen content, not technology, the executive said.

Human beings? Honestly? Facebook, for example, has 25 million users in India.

Nevertheless ...

The three executives said Mr. Sibal has told these companies that he expects them to set up a proactive prescreening system, with staffers looking for objectionable content and deleting it before it is posted.

The executives said representatives from these companies will tell Mr. Sibal at the meeting on Monday that his demand is impossible, given the volume of user-generated content coming from India, and that they cannot be responsible for determining what is and isn't defamatory or disparaging.

Something tells me that is not going to go over well.

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