It was only a few days ago that I wrote with disappointment of Twitter embracing the censorship demanded by some regimes where they enabled geographic blocking of content – but now Google and Facebook have got in on the act. The companies have said they have complied with a civil suit ruling in Delhi, India, and removed “objectionable” material.
Indian judges have previously threatened “act like China” and block sites that hosted such “blasphemous” material after a civil case and a separate criminal case have been brought against the technology giants in recent months over images and content that demonstrate intolerance of religion. Google lawyer, NK Kaul, did state that these cases revolved around constitutional issue of freedom of speech and expression – but each company has complied by removing the offending material.
Whilst it’s true that India, like China, is a huge growth market for technology companies as their middle classes swell and more people in their billion+ populations obtain the disposable income to spend on connectivity and gadgetry – bowing to censorship sets a worrying precedent. Technology companies the world over went black just a few days ago in protest of the SOPA and PIPA bills in the USA which effectively gave the reigns of censorship to media conglomerates, but those same technology companies seem happy to offer the carrot of censorship to governments worldwide in order to remain in their market and increasing their profit margins.
The internet was built for connectivity, and although there always needs to be limits on ideas such a free speech and free expression – we should never turn to censorship to increase profits. We should be better than that.
[via BBC News]