Need to utilise laws to remove defamatory material: Assocham

December 7th, 2011 - 11:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Facebook New Delhi, Dec 7 (IANS) A leading industry lobby Wednesday said that the government should utilise the exsiting legal remedies for removing defamatory materials from social media websites, rather then imposing any new regulations on the sector.

“The government should consider to encourage the already existing legal process in connection with defamatory content that is stipulated in the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules, 2011,” Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) said in a statement.

According to the statement, current provisions in the law mandate social media service providers to disable any information on their network which is grossly harmful, harassing, blasphemous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or otherwise unlawful in any manner.

The Assocham reaction came a day after the government proposed to formulate guidelines to regulate social media in dealing with defamatory content on these sites.

Communications Minister Kapil Sibal Tuesday said that the government will not allow social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to host “objectionable” content and will take steps to screen and remove these.

The minister’s announcement came a day after representatives from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft during a meeting with him declined to remove offensive content.

Sibal said some of the content available on these sites could hurt the religious sentiments of a large section of communities in India. “Religious sentiments of many communities and of any reasonable person is being hurt because of content which is on the sites,” he told reporters.

The minister said these firms were hesitant to even share information relating to terrorist activities.

“They will have to give us data, then there will be actions taken. We will ask them to give information. Allow us time to deal with it. But one thing is sure, we will not allow this kind of content,” Sibal said when asked about the contours of the actions to be taken.

However, Assocham said that any attempt to over-regulate would directly impact the freedom of speech and expression of the netizen community.

“Assocham encourages the government to provide enabling support to the social media industry so that further regulations do not create obstacles not only in business of intermediaries but also in the right of the users,” the statement added.

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