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Google Sets Censorship Precedent In India

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the in-accordance-with-local-laws-and-privileges dept.

Censorship 245

eldavojohn writes "Censorship varies from country to country but India, home to a sixth of the world's population, appears to be shaping up much like China. Not far behind everyone else, Google has increasingly censored websites with an incident where a very popular politician died and Google forcibly deleted and dissolved a group on Orkut where offensive comments about the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh were posted. An official from India's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology said, 'If you are doing business here, you should follow the local law, the sentiments of the people, the culture of the country. If somebody starts abusing Lord Rama on a Web site, that could start riots.' The lengthy opinion piece calls attention to the beginnings of a definitive lack of free speech online for Indian citizens. A spokeswoman for the 'Do No Evil' company explained, 'India does value free speech and political speech. But they are weighing the harm of free speech against violence in their streets.'"

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245 comments

Now what? (5, Funny)

iCantSpell (1162581) | more than 4 years ago | (#30629824)

Fuck the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh

Re:Now what? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30629928)

Did you try rebooting your computer?

Re:Now what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30630624)

Are you sure it's plugged in?

Re:Now what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30629990)

Er, actually former and dead Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, but I agree with your point and your spirit :)

Re:Now what? (3, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630162)

"Google forcibly deleted and dissolved a group on Orkut"

Wow. Really? They just marched a batallion of Google soldiers in, with fixed bayonets, and FORCIBLY took the site over?

FFS - how about dropping all the drama bullshit, and just say that Google deleted a fucking page on their site. Drama queens suck diseased donkey balls. Or, diseased dog nuts, if donkey balls are in short supply.

I don't like censorship. With censorship, I wouldn't be allowed to point out that the deceased Senator Ted Kennedy was a fucking moron, a thief, a murderer, and a fraud. It could be that this deceased Indian dude was just like Senator Ted. If so, the world has the right to know.

Re:Now what? (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630308)

"Drama queens suck diseased donkey balls"
Wow, really? They get down on their knees and actually start sucking the balls of a diseased donkey?

Why don't you follow your own advice?

Re:Now what? (0, Flamebait)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630360)

Amen, brutha

Also from the summary:

If somebody starts abusing Lord Rama on a Web site, that could start riots.

Pffffffff haHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Your Mickey Mouse gods don't mean shit to me, Habib, I'm an American citizen!

Oblig. Simpsons Quote (0, Flamebait)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630518)

Please do not offer my god a peanut!

Re:Now what? (1)

knappe duivel (914316) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630482)

With censorship, I wouldn't be allowed to point out that the deceased Senator Ted Kennedy was a fucking moron, a thief, a murderer, and a fraud.

And still he was the best goddamn senator the USA ever had.

Re:Now what? (-1, Flamebait)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630542)

In your wildest delusional dreams. Any sumbitch that gets a girl pregnant, then kills her is hardly the best of anything. If Kennedy really were the best, then I would have to cry for the United States. Fortunately, you're wrong. His own brothers were far superior to that sniveling swine. I had problems with both of his older brothers, but at least they were men. Ted? Phhht. The best part of him ran down Jack's leg - if there ever was a best part.

BTW - when you start saying "best ~ ever had", you are also comparing him to all senators throughout our 200+ years of history. You're comparing that scumsucker to a lot of good men and women who have gone before. An awful lot. Are you prepared to qualitatively and quantitatively back up your assertion? Or, does your post begin and end with your delusional fan-boy statement?

Re:Now what? (2, Informative)

knappe duivel (914316) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630560)

Actually, I was quoting The Simpsons. Homer was declared the best Kwik-E-Mart attendant ever, after doing his usual best.

Re:Now what? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630610)

Oh. Sorry. I've seen very little of the Simpsons - quotes are lost on me.

Re:Now what? (1)

kai_hiwatari (1642285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630202)

Fuck the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh

Now they will ban slashdot from India because of your comment!!

Re:Now what? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30630272)

bunch of curry eating sand niggers if you ask me

Re:Now what? (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630526)

Worse yet ... without Indian tech support, it's only a matter of time before the servers go up in flames.

Re:Now what? (1)

nick1000 (914998) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630258)

Fuck the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh

YSR is dead now. The current CM of AP is a big fool. Many Indians would join your rally cry now. Fuck him!

Free? (5, Insightful)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 4 years ago | (#30629828)

Free Trade doesn't seem to be doing much for freedom around the world.

Re:Free? (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30629866)

But you also need to look at it that it exposes the evil in censorship. without these incidents Indian censorship might not have been widely reported so citizens wouldn't act on it, the more the individual knows that censorship is taking place the more they will fight it. It is only when censorship is not noticed that it becomes so much more harmful.

Re:Free? (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630146)

What makes you think the citizens will act on their knowledge and fight censorship?
In many countries the majority of the population wants certain topics censored.

If the USA didn't have the 1st Amendment, I doubt we'd have such free speech.
I mean, the religious types managed to get alcohol banned for 13 years.
Just think of what they'd have done to words they didn't like.

Re:Free? (1, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630208)

What makes you think the citizens will act on their knowledge and fight censorship?

People don't want to be oppressed. Look at what happened to countries in the iron curtain. Their economy fell apart, people wanted civil rights, they protested and an oppressive government fell.

In many countries the majority of the population wants certain topics censored.

Eventually though, an enlightenment happens. In most of the western world it happened during the 18th century enlightenment period lead by people such as Voltaire. In the aftermath of World War I, people, indoctrinated with mass media threw aside enlightenment for nationalism which eventually lead to World War II and the Cold War. Now we are in another age of enlightenment for the western world. Perhaps the eastern world will have a similar enlightenment.

If the USA didn't have the 1st Amendment, I doubt we'd have such free speech.

Of course not, and if it wasn't for the bill of rights chances are we'd have no rights.

I mean, the religious types managed to get alcohol banned for 13 years.

...Which was also banned in some parts of Europe, Canada, and Russia for during the same times. Alcohol was the pot of today, it was blamed for everything. Eventually reason prevailed and they unbanned it. Chances are, once governments start looking at the scientific evidence, we will look at a number of substances and wonder what in the world we were thinking when we banned them.

Re:Free? (0, Troll)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630316)

People don't want to be oppressed. Look at what happened to countries in the iron curtain. Their economy fell apart, people wanted civil rights, they protested and an oppressive government fell.

Uh, no, an oppressive government fell because said government horribly mismanaged their economy. Meanwhile, I don't expect to see China or India falling apart any time soon.

It all comes down to bread and circuses (and a little zealous nationalism/culturalism, coupled with a dash of xenophobia, always helps).

Chances are, once governments start looking at the scientific evidence, we will look at a number of substances and wonder what in the world we were thinking when we banned them.

HA HA HA HA! Oh god, that's good. Yeah, all it'll take is a little scientific evidence. *snicker* Good luck with that. I mean, it definitely had nothing to do with alcohol being *very* widely consumed, or that banning it resulted in organized crime like nothing we've seen in modern times, right? It was just the scientific evidence about alcohol that turned the tide...

No, I'm sorry, when it comes to drugs, homosexuality, and a number of other issues, social conservatives are winning the day, and until those views can be changed, the laws will remain just as they are, as when it comes right down to it, the US is a tyranny of the majority, where those of the moral majority get to dictate what everyone else can and can't do, bill of rights be damned.

Re:Free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30630386)

Hmm, organized crime being the result of banning something? Substitute latino/black gangs for Irish/Italian (at least as the poster boys) and you just described the effects of the drug war. If we had an epiphany about that once, we can have it again.

Re:Free? (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630584)

People don't want to be oppressed.

Depends on how cleverly you set up the squeezing machinery.

CC.

Re:Free? (4, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630294)

Actually, prohibition wasn't so much a religious movement, but a pan-belief movement.

There were the religious groups, anti-immigrant groups (they didn't like the beer and alcohol drinking cultures from central, eastern and southern Europe), and the biggest part were was the suffrage movement.

And it wasn't just the US, they did it in 1914 to 1925 in Russia and the Soviet Union, Canada, Iceland and other non-Islamic states -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prohibition_in_Russian_Empire_and_Soviet_Union [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperance_movement#United_States [wikipedia.org]

Re:Free? (3, Interesting)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630656)

In many countries the majority of the population wants certain topics censored

You don't need to censor that which people voluntarily reject or have no interest in. You censor that which people might be interested in seeing but which doesn't suit your purposes.

Quotes like this guy's "we should respect the laws of local countries" I don't agree with. Laws != Ethics. The correct extension of the principle of respecting other's values is "we should respect the wishes of the people of local countries". The people are not synonymous with their government and the more a government censors information from the people, the less synonymous with that government they are likely to be and the less reason we have to follow the dictates of a government that claims to represent them.

If information is uncensored, then people can choose to look at it / read it / think about it or not. If information is censored then they have only one option. Given that being able to choose the better option out of two functionally subsumes only having one of those choices without cost, then the logically better option is not to censor things.

Re:Free? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630444)

But you also need to look at it that it exposes the evil in censorship.

Yeah, that's the ticket. We need more censorship in the USA, so we can expose the evils of censorship.

Re:Free? (2, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30629978)

It doesn't work here either. The US runs to the WTO whenever there's a problem with other places violating the rules of "free trade", but in the Internet Gambling case team USA lost by being told that international sites should be allowed to offer gambling services... yet the USA has ignored that ruling, setting the precedent that other countries can just ignore decisions they don't agree with.

"Free trade" has become another meaningless political phrase... next please.

Re:Free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30630388)

Oh?? Free trade?

What about good reasons to attack a country with lies just for controlling petrol production? Is that free trade?
Is that free speech (I will always remember US news at that time)?

I just believe that different cultures must co-exist. Pushing American "free-speech" to another country is just
a nonsense (especially coming from a conservative country). Would you accept Muslim laws? I guess no.

And I am sure that when China will be the dominant country in our world (and you should see it if you are not
already in your 60s), you will have to complain about the "truth", won't you?

Just to remember you that being powerful does not mean being right. History is long enough to tell us this reality.

Re:Free? (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630554)

The big benefit of free trade isn't increased freedoms around the world, but the lessening of armed conflict. Nations which trade with each other tend to do better than isolationist nations, but they also become dependent on each other. Nation which depend on each other are much less likely to wage war on each other. Whether they both grant the same freedoms to their citizens is largely irrelevant.

Of course, generally speaking, increased wealth (average income) does tend to lead to increased education and an increase in freedom. However, that's a much longer process. Most of India is still dirt poor - if you expect to see them becoming more liberal any time soon, you're going to be very disappointed. I know that we live in the "Gimme It Right Now!" era but, in this case, you're going to have to exercise some patience. There's no moores law for human rights.

Re:Free? (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630608)

Free Trade doesn't seem to be doing much for freedom around the world.

The Chinese populace is certainly a lot more free than they were even in the recent past, though they're still certainly in poor shape.

This single incident in India is pretty damn trivial, and India has a pretty good level of freedom for it's population. Not everyone's definition of free speech matches with the US. In most of Europe, in particular, public discussion of ongoing trials is commonly forbidden, as are statements that hurt someone's reputation, no matter how factually accurate they might be. And yet, I don't see too many people complaining most of Europe is a police state...

John Stuart Mill said it best (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30629846)

"We have now recognised the necessity to the mental well-being of mankind (on which all their other well-being depends) of freedom of opinion, and freedom of the expression of opinion, on four distinct grounds; which we will now briefly recapitulate.

First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.

Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of truth; and since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied.

Thirdly, even if the received opinion be not only true, but the whole truth; unless it is suffered to be, and actually is, vigorously and earnestly contested, it will, by most of those who receive it, be held in the manner of a prejudice, with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds. And not only this, but, fourthly, the meaning of the doctrine itself will be in danger of being lost, or enfeebled, and deprived of its vital effect on the character and conduct: the dogma becoming a mere formal profession, inefficacious for good, but cumbering the ground, and preventing the growth of any real and heartfelt conviction, from reason or personal experience."

Local custom or not, silencing speech is harmful to society.

Sounds like a culture problem to me... (5, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30629850)

If somebody starts abusing Lord Rama on a Web site, that could start riots.

Sounds like more of a culture problem than a Google problem there. I mean, is the west the only place where people can say "offensive" things without riots? And even then Islamic idiots try to kill them (look at the Danish cartoonist issue) when free speech is protected by law.

India needs to address this problem themselves by increasing free speech, not by trying to shut it down.

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30629938)

India needs to address this problem themselves by increasing free speech, not by trying to shut it down.

Well, if you had a rioting mob in your street when something is posted which they don't like then you too would be more careful not to incite violence.

It's very easy to defend free speech from your comfortable home in a stable society, but if you live in a less fortunate country then you have to take a different route to prevent people dying unnecessarily.

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630004)

Yes, but the problem is it is India's fault for letting this crap happen and its also Hinduism's fault for not tolerating any criticism of their religion. No matter what you blame modern-day Christianity for, generally you can do whatever you want to Christianity and get nothing more than a boycott. About the only time you can incite modern day Christianity to (religiously-backed) violence is what they perceive as violence towards others such as in abortion clinic bombings. But those too are rare. Compare the reaction between a (most would consider pretty blasphemous) piece of art (Piss Christ) and a comic about Muhammad. How many more comics are there referencing Jesus out there that have zero reaction?

Governments need to explain to various religions about free speech and tolerance. No matter where you stand religiously, there is no need to get offended that someone -gasp- might not want to believe the same way you do.

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (5, Interesting)

thePig (964303) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630104)

I do not think that Hinduism is at fault here. I have read quite a bit of books on Hinduism, and I dont remember seeing anywhere clauses that other religions should not exist or that people should fight if somebody blasphemes. It is mostly people with vested interests that ferment trouble. For example, right wing political parties trying to increase xenophobia for getting more votes for the next election, or not so nice religious leaders trying to increase their clout etc has very good motivation in inciting riots.

What I have seen is that this is indeed the case in almost all religions. More than anything, it is the human development index which specifically shows through in such cases. Where HDI is low, people are more discontent and it is easy to channel their discontent to anger by rabble rousing. In most countries it is the same. If you were to look at countries with high HDI and literacy, people does not take to streets for such issues. People there has more to lose and also they have more channels of information and understanding which makes such people more understanding. Even inside India, states like Kerala has very high HDI - close to that of developed nations - and riots happen very rarely there.

I think it has nothing to do with Christianity or Hinduism or anything. Also, regarding the quote

it is India's fault for letting this crap happen

, I quite disagree with your point. India, even though growing, has quite a bit of people with a lot of discontent. I have seen that Indians do care quite a bit for freedom - in both speech and action. In such a country, there will be many who will incite people, and riots do happen. If it was more like China, then freedom of speech is a little more curtailed, and rabble rousers wont have such a free rein. So, Indian government does not have any other option to block communication channels to avoid these speeches becoming more widespread and cause more deaths.

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (4, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630140)

I do not think that Hinduism is at fault here. I have read quite a bit of books on Hinduism, and I dont remember seeing anywhere clauses that other religions should not exist or that people should fight if somebody blasphemes. It is mostly people with vested interests that ferment trouble. For example, right wing political parties trying to increase xenophobia for getting more votes for the next election, or not so nice religious leaders trying to increase their clout etc has very good motivation in inciting riots.

Yes, I didn't think that Hinduism would be that violent either, but the quote in the summary from India's ministry of technology did make it seem that it was a typical occurrence. Of course, subtleties in the phrase may have been lost during translation.

, I quite disagree with your point. India, even though growing, has quite a bit of people with a lot of discontent. I have seen that Indians do care quite a bit for freedom - in both speech and action. In such a country, there will be many who will incite people, and riots do happen. If it was more like China, then freedom of speech is a little more curtailed, and rabble rousers wont have such a free rein. So, Indian government does not have any other option to block communication channels to avoid these speeches becoming more widespread and cause more deaths.

However, was it not the United State's government's job to increase tolerance of black people after the American Civil War? It is the Indian government's responsibility to control its population without resorting to censorship. Especially not censorship of this type. There is a difference between not letting someone go on a government owned radio station saying this and allowing access to information to what Indian people have searched for. Theres a difference between a discussion group and a giant neon sign in the middle of a road.

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (1, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630284)

Yes, I didn't think that Hinduism would be that violent either, but the quote in the summary from India's ministry of technology did make it seem that it was a typical occurrence.

It's unfortunately [wikipedia.org] a reality [wikipedia.org] of modern India that far-right [wikipedia.org] "Hindu nationalism [wikipedia.org] " is a common interpretation [wikipedia.org] of Hinduism.

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (1)

Whatshisface (1203604) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630476)

Freedom is valued in India, but the concept of absolute freedom of speech is not as ingrained in the culture as it is in some western countries.

The general rise in Hindu nationalism is a recent thing, and has come from certain political leaders exploiting the discontentment among the poor and unemployed. Because India has a fair amount of affirmative action for minority communities, the Hindus are incited into believing that everyone else is being favoured apart from them, and that freedom of speech means people can do and say anything against their culture and religion.

The problem with free speech is that of course anyone has the right to say anything they like, and it requires a certain level of education to understand that that's not a bad thing.

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30630132)

About the only time you can incite modern day Christianity to (religiously-backed) violence is what they perceive as violence towards others such as in abortion clinic bombings.

The bombings are so infrequent (there have been about 10 in the past 30 years) that they can probably be attributed to mental problems.

In the States, before MLK, you had a number of leftist groups that instigated riots and engaged in terrorism. Since MLK mainstreamed the peaceful protest, the only riots are caused by modern anarchists (who are there more for the mayhem than anything else) and a few exceptional cases where racial tensions exploded.

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630154)

True, but I knew that some militant atheist Slashdotter would probably post something to that effect if I didn't at least put something negative in about Christianity. Because we all know all religion is the root of all evil

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630218)

Is that a corollary of the love of money is the root of all religion?

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30630424)

Yes, religion is the root of all evil. It invented the term!

Without religion people would have to evaluate their actions through an ethical system based on logic instead of some arbitrary binary classification scheme.

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30630290)

YSR, the politician in question was a Christian.

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (2)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630474)

Compare the reaction between a (most would consider pretty blasphemous)

Say what? Why would most consider that work of art blasphemous? It was made by a religious artist, and intends to express the sacredness of all creation. I'm not sure how you get a "blasphemous" interpretation out of it.

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630064)

It's very easy to defend free speech from your comfortable home in a stable society, but if you live in a less fortunate country then you have to take a different route to prevent people dying unnecessarily.

I'm sure it is much harder when that is the case, but going along with censorship to placate the violent idiots will only strengthen them long term. Hypocrites like religious fundamentalists are wrong and attempt to steer society in wrong directions. They need to be criticized, mocked, and exposed to fight back. They won't like it, sometimes they'll be violent about it. If you don't though, they won't stop.

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (2, Funny)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630196)

"Hearing the news of his death, 300 people allegedly died either due to heart attack or by committing suicide in grief."

BRRRRING!!!

Crap, I'm in the middle of reading the news, and the phone rings.

"Hello!"

"Hey, Runaway, this is Darwin calling."

"But, you're dead, aren't you?"

"Yes, but science is wonderful, isn't it? I've just had a phone installed, and though I'd test it out."

"Oh, cool. So, I'm getting my first phone call from the afterlife!"

"Yes, and I just wanted to tell you not to worry about 300 dead Indians who committed suicide, or died of grief over some politician. Those dumb bastards had nothing to put back into the gene pool anyway."

"Oh, OK, Thanks Charles. Though, I couldn't see myself getting overly excited about them anyway."

"Alright, cool, Runaway. Have a nice day now. Like I said, I was just testing my new phone - I have some important calls to make now. 1-900 numbers and such, you know. See you around!"

click hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (1)

zippyspringboard (1483595) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630216)

Well, if you had a rioting mob in your street when something is posted which they don't like then you too would be more careful not to incite violence.

It's very easy to defend free speech from your comfortable home in a stable society, but if you live in a less fortunate country then you have to take a different route to prevent people dying unnecessarily.

Perhaps if there was more freedom of speech, instability would not exist to the degree that censorship is required to prevent riots. Arguing the merits of censorship is essentially circular logic. The people are oppressed. Why are they oppressed? Because it's for their own good, if we didn't oppress them they would riot and hurt themselves... Why would they riot? Because they are oppressed. Ahh.. Makes perfect sense.

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630654)

It's very easy to defend free speech from your comfortable home in a stable society, but if you live in a less fortunate country then you have to take a different route to prevent people dying unnecessarily.

OK, so I live in a less fortunate country, there have been ethnic and religious riots, and a thirty year long ethnic civil war that has kill at least a 100,000 people, and I am a member of ethnic and religious minorities that many of the majority regard with hostility.

I still want free speech. Free speech is only a cause of problems in the short term. In the long term, getting people to respect other' free speech is essential, both in itself, and as a guarantee of other rights (freedom or worship requires freedom of speech, democracy requires the ability to debate and criticise freely.

Then there is the question of why "more fortunate" countries limit free speech. Ireland just passed a blasphemy law. The UK has an array of hate speech laws, a vaguely worded law against saying anything that might encouraging terrorism, another against possessing anything that might be of help to terrorists (including books, films etc.) and libel laws that make it very difficult to say anything critical of anyone who can afford to sue.

The common factor seems to be not allowing speech that might upset people.

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (2, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30629996)

Politics is far more realistic and practical than that. At some point it doesn't matter why people are dumb enough to riot, if they will, and it gets people killed (notably innocent people) then you have to be seen taking steps to stop it. And with 1.1 billion people, no matter what happens, someone is bound to get killed. Scared sacred elephant in Allahabad, there's a dozen people trampled to death. Train ride from Mumbai to Dehli there's a few people who fall of and get killed or seriously wounded- assuming the train ever actually goes.

There are probably 700 or 800 million hindu's in India. The vast majority of whom are poorly, if at all educated. The only 'education' they have could be from a local priest who has told them whatever he bloody well feels like. Changing that to a culture that values fully free speech simply isn't going to happen in a short period of time. Heck look at ireland and blasphemy laws which just came essentially back into force. We in the 'west' (insofar as Ireland ever deserved to be counted as the west) aren't exactly immune from this either. Indians who are pro censorship are playing to a much more practical than ideological view of their country and the consequences of the world they live in. When you have a literacy rate of 60% your options aren't good, and more ideological solutions take time. A lot of time. Especially when it's in someone else's political interest to stir up a fuss every time someone says something unpopular.

Truly free speech is an ideological myth, and as matter of practice not worth fighting for anyway - would you really want someone free to stir up a riot that kills dozens if not hundreds of people for the fun of it? For all the fuss over the cartoons of mohammed the real story is that one guy was able to cause serious personal risk to thousands of people, millions of dollars in productivity and possible property damage. He was making a statement, but one could as easily have done it solely for the purpose of stirring up a fuss, and that's not really a power you want just waved around recklessly. Whether it should cause such problems is really a different problem, in the world we live in it does cause problems and you have to cope with that. No more than in the US the president cannot declare war - power tends to require balance. The power to declare war must be balanced with the guarantee that the people either (in the british system) can choose to not pay for it, and therefore not go a long with it, or in the US system not allow it at all, the power to cause riots which can kill people and cause millions in damage, trigger diplomatic spats and risk frankly war, perhaps also needs balance.

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630024)

I mean, is the west the only place where people can say "offensive" things without riots?

Yes. Did Lord Rama include John Stuart Mill in the Ramayana?

I'm beginning to doubt the value of free speech (4, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630032)

Seriously, I'm beginning to question the value of completely free speech. I've spent my entire life so far in support of it, and the free marketplace, but I'm finding more and more, that both are a fiction and always have been!

The "free" marketplace isn't free, it's a highly unstable situation that's carefully protected by a government that's surprisingly willing to impose on the "freedome" of the marketplace. Until the 1980s, government stepped in many times, repeatedly, over the years, to limit the power of the monopolies in the United States. But after about 1981 or so, we simply stopped caring. And the result has decimated our marketplace! In becoming more "free", we've simply become more monopolistic, where Wal-Mart now delivers some 30% to 50% of the consumed goods in the USA.

This was unheard of before then, but only because the gubbmint stepped in repeatedly to limit the power of (among others) A&P, the mid-20th century equivalent of Wal-Mart. As a percentage of population, Wal-Mart is now at least 5x as big as A&P ever was at its height. Yet Wal-Mart is just one of many vertical monopolies now rearing, to the deafening roar of untrained people who rally and cry for speech and marketplaces free from the controls of the government that was otherwise busy serving their own interests. It's a sad, sad state of affairs.

In a similar vein, I'm finding that "free speech" never existed. For over a century, there were strict controls on news organizations and reporting agencies - strict policies on libel and a general expectation of truth. This was easily enforced, because there were so few news agencies with the ability to reach a significant percentage of the population. And the result was filtered news and information of generally high-quality.

But the Internet has changed all that. Even if strict news reporting standards were still in effect, the news organizations would have to compete with the deafening roar of blogs and other "almost news" sites (Slashdot being one of them!) and so the standards would lose all their teeth anyway.

What journalistic standards is my completely private post written from my armchair going to be held to?

But the end result is that any whining idiot with an opinion that sounds nice gets lots of play, and real information gets lost in the din of noise and misinformation. Without any expectation of accountability, idiots like Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly are free to spread their bile and intellectual filth to unwashed masses who haven't developed the means to filter them out, partly due to the falling standards and expectations from our public school system, which has gotten so bad that no schooling at all [unschooling.com] is often an improvement.

Free speech is just noise without a bullshit filter. Look in your spam box for 99.97% "free speech". If society is to save itself, it will need to learn the difference between speech and honest-to-god information.

Right now, it's not looking so good.

Re:I'm beginning to doubt the value of free speech (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630112)

Until the 1980s, government stepped in many times, repeatedly, over the years, to limit the power of the monopolies in the United States. But after about 1981 or so, we simply stopped caring.

But the problem wasn't that we stopped enforcing anti-trust acts, it was that we deliberately -helped- the monopolies and harmed the general public with such rulings as software patents, the DMCA, etc.

And the result has decimated our marketplace! In becoming more "free", we've simply become more monopolistic, where Wal-Mart now delivers some 30% to 50% of the consumed goods in the USA.

...And in all honesty theres nothing wrong with Wal-Mart delivering most of the goods because Wal-Mart is a monopoly not because of government intervention or lack of the ability to compete, Wal-Mart is simply willing to take risks and deliver what the masses want.

Wal-Mart has competition with a lot of other stores: Target aims to be a more aesthetically pleasing form of Wal-Mart with more specialty goods and generally a more "upscale" atmosphere at the price of a slight bit of higher prices. Costco aims to save consumers more money by allowing them to buy in bulk. And there are many other smaller competitors.

The reason why Wal-Mart has thrived is because it provides a large variety of cheap (in both meanings of the word) goods and is willing to expand into smaller areas. Its a lot more convenient for someone to go to Wal-Mart that has most everything in stock then to go to a specialty store only to find that it would take 2-3 weeks to get in a product that provides little to no price savings. Now, thats not to say that specialty stores are bad or don't provide what customers need, not at all, but they are specialty stores, the things that Wal-Mart isn't going to carry you can pick up there.

In a similar vein, I'm finding that "free speech" never existed. For over a century, there were strict controls on news organizations and reporting agencies - strict policies on libel and a general expectation of truth. This was easily enforced, because there were so few news agencies with the ability to reach a significant percentage of the population. And the result was filtered news and information of generally high-quality.

The information was high quality if you wanted one group's opinion, yes. The thing is, today we try to cover news stories from all possible angles. Back during WWII no effort was made to try to tell the war from Germany's or Japan's point of view, today every conflict even recent ones such as Iraq and Afghanistan have reporters trying to find out both sides of the story. No longer is it ok to just blindly accept the government's viewpoint.

But the Internet has changed all that. Even if strict news reporting standards were still in effect, the news organizations would have to compete with the deafening roar of blogs and other "almost news" sites (Slashdot being one of them!) and so the standards would lose all their teeth anyway

That is because that is what people want to hear. They don't care about the big picture which is what journalism used to be about, they care about individuals and their viewpoints. They want to hear history as told from the diaries of the people who lived through it, not from the history book.

But the end result is that any whining idiot with an opinion that sounds nice gets lots of play, and real information gets lost in the din of noise and misinformation. Without any expectation of accountability, idiots like Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly are free to spread their bile and intellectual filth to unwashed masses who haven't developed the means to filter them out, partly due to the falling standards and expectations from our public school system, which has gotten so bad that no schooling at all is often an improvement.

And that is the way it always has been, we just didn't have any other sides. History is written by the victors, but the internet is making it so the losers have a voice too. And you have to realize, Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly are talk show hosts, as are Ellen DeGenerous, Oprah, etc. Their main point isn't to present the news, but to present stories and commentary. More like an editorial, they may use strong opinions to make some people convinced it is fact, but in the end it is all an editorial.

I totally agree with you about public schooling. Standardized tests have totally destroyed the educational system. Today, few teachers will do anything with critical thinking, even Advanced Placement classes are presented in a way that is basically only test prep.

Free speech is just noise without a bullshit filter. Look in your spam box for 99.97% "free speech". If society is to save itself, it will need to learn the difference between speech and honest-to-god information.

Yes, but the fact that it is just noise makes it all the more important. Because of this, unworkable or plain stupid opinions are lost in the shuffle usually and only the bright ones stand out.

Re:I'm beginning to doubt the value of free speech (3, Interesting)

evilviper (135110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630572)

But the problem wasn't that we stopped enforcing anti-trust acts, it was that we deliberately -helped- the monopolies and harmed the general public with such rulings as software patents, the DMCA, etc.

Wrong. The DMCA and software patents certainly don't help matters, but that has nothing to do with the banking collapse (both of them...), the monopolization of the news media, the free reign of large corporations, etc. None of this is cause by active government interference, but rather, by the government ceding it's responsibility to regulate.

Wal-Mart is a monopoly not because of government intervention or lack of the ability to compete, Wal-Mart is simply willing to take risks and deliver what the masses want.

Wal-Mart's good PR, able to bring in shoppers with a whopping 12 cent discount was what got them into this position, but Wal-Mart is a monopoly today because its vast size has become self-sustaining. They can dictate prices and terms to their suppliers, and if they aren't happy, that disagreement may well single-handedly drive your company out of business.

The information was high quality if you wanted one group's opinion, yes.

Bull. The news media was much better at unbiased reporting in the past. Today, it's largely a token quote from both sides (no matter how factually incorrect one side's statement may be), and then back to whatever spin was desired...

There are only a few examples of propaganda you can possibly come up with, and it's a lousy comparison because such circumstances just don't exist today. There is no more Soviet Union, so we don't need the propaganda anymore. If you want to talk about modern wars, try comparing the news coverage of Vietnam and tell me we've got it so much better today...

More like an editorial, they may use strong opinions to make some people convinced it is fact, but in the end it is all an editorial.

Blatantly lying and distorting facts is NOT editorial. If it was, then you could can hide ANYTHING behind that label, with impunity.

Because of this, unworkable or plain stupid opinions are lost in the shuffle usually and only the bright ones stand out

That's completely baseless. There's nothing in existence to do this incredible job at filtering out the crap from the cream. With no filtering, it's he who yells the loudest, and that's what we see today... which explains Fox News quite succinctly.

Re:I'm beginning to doubt the value of free speech (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630244)

Aww...someone needs a hug! Did that nasty evil free press advocate ideas that you don't agree with? Funny how it's all about how the press needs to be free and unfettered...up until the point that they become TOO free and start disagreeing.

It's especially distressing to see ideas like "information" and "truth" spouted by post-modernists. There is no objective truth, only different points of view, all of which are equally valid.

Re:I'm beginning to doubt the value of free speech (1)

TheAlkymyst (1695930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630432)

There is no objective truth, only different points of view, all of which are equally valid.

Unless they are intentional deceptions. Also known as lies. Or marketing.

Re:I'm beginning to doubt the value of free speech (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30630254)

Free speech is just noise without a bullshit filter. Look in your spam box for 99.97% "free speech". If society is to save itself, it will need to learn the difference between speech and honest-to-god information.

Spam is _NOT_ "free speech".

Free speech protects speech it does not provide an audience.
(aka, the right for you to swing your fist ends at my nose.)

Re:I'm beginning to doubt the value of free speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30630422)

"..difference between speech and honest-to-god information" - as determined by who? You? Freaking get a clue. Libtard do your homework. For instance you'd find that walmart has saved the average american family over $2k a year by driving down prices. That may not mean anything to you, but it does to some.

Re:I'm beginning to doubt the value of free speech (1)

uid7306m (830787) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630502)

He's (she's?) right about the signal-to-noise ratio. We've gone from a situation where you can't say the truth to one where you can't find the truth amid the cruft.

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (5, Interesting)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630056)

Sounds like more of a culture problem than a Google problem there. I mean, is the west the only place where people can say "offensive" things without riots? And even then Islamic idiots try to kill them (look at the Danish cartoonist issue) when free speech is protected by law.

What are you talking about?

If I go into a large crowd somewhere in the US and start shouting that you guys deserved 9/11 for your arrogance, not only am I likely to start a riot - I'm also likely to get beaten to death or shot.

Methinks your perception is a bit off. If you're going to go insinuating that other cultures or countries are inferior, you should at least examine similar situations. And surprise surprise - everyone behaves similarly when the situations have the same meaning to individual people.

Countdown to troll mod... 5...4...3...2...1

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (2, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630078)

We're talking about someone posting it on the internet, though, not anything so overtly confrontational as seeking out a group of people and shouting at them in person. Lots of Americans do post on the internet all sorts of absurd things about 9/11, from "America deserved it because of arrogance" to "America deserved it because of homosexuals" to "it was an inside job" or "a Jewish conspiracy". As far as I know, the existence of literally thousands of such websites has not incited riots.

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30630136)

Sounds like more of a culture problem than a Google problem there. I mean, is the west the only place where people can say "offensive" things without riots? And even then Islamic idiots try to kill them (look at the Danish cartoonist issue) when free speech is protected by law.

What are you talking about?

If I go into a large crowd somewhere in the US and start shouting that you guys deserved 9/11 for your arrogance, not only am I likely to start a riot - I'm also likely to get beaten to death or shot.

Methinks your perception is a bit off. If you're going to go insinuating that other cultures or countries are inferior, you should at least examine similar situations. And surprise surprise - everyone behaves similarly when the situations have the same meaning to individual people.

Countdown to troll mod... 5...4...3...2...1

90% likeliness would be that you would be ignored.
5% that a cop arrests you for disorderly conduct (for yelling at a crowd)
5% that an asshole starts a fight or suckerpunches you (and probably gets arrested for it)
0% that someone pulls a gun or a riot starts

There have not been many riots in US history, but generally they are started for a reason (such as the shooting of war protesters or racial injustices). You aren't going to start a riot about 9/11. Nobody really cares about it anymore. You need a lot of emotion to start a riot, and it simply doesn't exist in the US at this point in time. The last time the necessary amount of emotional energy existed in the US was after Katrina, but luckily nobody lit the match to start riots.

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (2, Insightful)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630170)

90% likeliness would be that you would be ignored.

I actually live close to Seattle, so it's probably closer to 100%. Or maybe some people would agree with me.

But this...

You need a lot of emotion to start a riot, and it simply doesn't exist in the US at this point in time. The last time the necessary amount of emotional energy existed in the US was after Katrina, but luckily nobody lit the match to start riots.

Is true. Who can say how much emotional energy and turmoil is churning in India right now? I certainly can't.

I think my point stands - for a comparison to be valid it has to be similar situations to individual people.

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630230)

You mean something like the Westboro Baptist Church, the group that goes to soldiers funerals with big signs that say that the soldier's death was punishment from God because the US tolerates homosexuality? Oddly enough they have never caused a real riot, yeah, some people tried to beat them up and some guy tried to set fire to one of their garages but that was it. No riots, no nothing. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westboro_Baptist_Church [wikipedia.org] for more info

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (0)

Burz (138833) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630134)

Indeed. And get this one:

'India does value free speech and political speech. But they are weighing the harm of free speech against violence in their streets.'

At some point, you have to accept that the government is a part or product of the national culture. So the above quote seems disingenuous to me.

Its interesting that the west does not hyperventilate over Hindu fundamentalism as we do with the Islamic variety. But then, I don't think the Hindu culture and caste system claims very many oil and gas fields among the lands under its control.

Free speech in America? Ha! (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630328)

Sounds like more of a culture problem than a Google problem there. I mean, is the west the only place where people can say "offensive" things without riots?

Walk into a biker bar and loudly and proudly proclaim that their favourite brand of motorcycle stinks. See how long you last. The only difference is there won't be a full scale riot because they'll make pretty short work of you.

Re:Sounds like a culture problem to me... (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630530)

"Islamic" is way too wide a generalization here. Consequence of similar is a confusion of terms leading to communications breakdown and more violence.
I propose "extremist", "fundamentalist" without additional qualifier, and even "terrorist" as substitute.

I hope one day the Persians and their neighbours will realize the AK-47 is the image of evil. Things didn't escalate to this level of brutality when they solved their problems with long knives.

Law != political correctness (3, Insightful)

drdrgivemethenews (1525877) | more than 4 years ago | (#30629852)

Seems to me that Google and others are correct in following local law. This is not the same, however, as following the dictates of local advocates of political correctness. Doing that is simply a recipe for increasing the level of local corruption.

Did you expect anything but this from Google... (1, Insightful)

Super Dave Osbourne (688888) | more than 4 years ago | (#30629860)

Google cares now, ad revenue down, don't piss off governments with freedom or speech, just fall in line and sell more ads. This is exactly why I won't use and don't encourage others to use anything related to Google, and turn off all adverts with FireFox popup and ad blocking plugins. Freedoms are only things we give up, we already have them inherently, and a love for tech device addictions and quick search results gives Google and companies like them power. There are always better choices/alternatives.

Re:Did you expect anything but this from Google... (3, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30629906)

Such as....? Most of the alternative search engines simply use a Google scraper to remove the privacy issues and deny Google any revenue from you using it. Lets see, I'd hardly say MSN/Live/Bing are non-evil being owned by Microsoft who has done more harm than good to the tech world, Yahoo! censors just as much if not more than Google, and I'm not entirely sure if Ask does or not but even assuming it doesn't I can never find any relevant results using it. Most other smaller search engines are either too small to give you a decent web search or owned by a large company (like how Yahoo owns AltaVista)

Re:Did you expect anything but this from Google... (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 4 years ago | (#30629944)

Well said. If I had mod points at the moment, I'd give you one. Control over search results is control over the information received by a significant minority of the population...the few who are willing to get up off their fat bums and actually look for another point of view.

Re:Did you expect anything but this from Google... (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630008)

We've seen what happens to Google/YouTube when they do something China doesn't like... they end up getting redirected to Chinese government-controlled competitors like Baidu. That story has run so many times we almost automatically scream "Dupe!" when that happens.

You've got to comply with the governments all around the world if you want to offer a truely worldwide site.

Do no evil. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30629876)

Except when emerging markets subtly demand it.

Re:Do no evil. (4, Insightful)

blarkon (1712194) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630100)

Google is a disproof of the old saying that the "Internet Routes Around Censorship". For most people Google *is* the Internet. Unless Google's search algorithm becomes open source, we will never know what is getting hidden from us.

contradiction much? (2, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30629896)

'India does value free speech and political speech. But they are weighing the harm of free speech against violence in their streets.'"

Translation: you can say *anything* you want as long as we approve of it. Censoring speech with which the government does not agree is completely incompatible with free speech.

Hmmm... (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 4 years ago | (#30629926)

So would I be correct in asserting that the cowardly douchebags would rather stifle something as central to democracy as free speech than put up with a few rioting morons?

Or is it that the people who get to make such assertions fear free speech because it would expose them for the money-grubbing, honourless thieves that they are?

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30630110)

Who is your employer?

Free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30629982)

Almost free is only a portion of free therefore it is NOT free speech after all. This not to infer that speech in the USA is less impeded.

Ethical Standards (2, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630026)

Google is and has been an American corporation. They started here and grew up here. And it's time they stopped making excuses.

When they agreed to censor the internet in China, their excuse was "If we don't do this, somebody else will." Translation: "The dollar is more important than principle." That pretty much puts the lie to their "Do No Evil" motto.

Google needs to decide whether they really want to "do no evil" or whether they just want to make a profit. They really can't have it both ways. And by traditional Western ethical standards, censorship is EVIL.

Thou shalt not (1)

Burz (138833) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630186)

...do business that would advance any removal of the capitalist system of profit.

But any other kind of evil is A-OK!!! Its just following the local laws, you know.

Re:Ethical Standards (1)

thetsguy (1211146) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630350)

Isn't this exactly what free markets and free economy says? Dollar is more important!
An organization has to be agile to earn money. If Google decides that it won't serve China, it would loose revenue, an organization in the US would lose revenue, pay less taxes and that would affect already stretched government and its fiscal deficit? Do you want to go down that path?

Re:Ethical Standards (1)

toriver (11308) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630466)

Yes, "traditional Western ethical standards" were in full force after 9/11/2001 - people lost their jobs for saying "unpatriotic" stuff, people were ordered out of malls for expressing their views with peace symbol T-shirts, ...

then there are all the "no"-words you are supposed not to use etc.

By traditional Western ethical standards, censorship is common but not blatantly so.

Re:Ethical Standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30630602)

Yes, because Google is so useful when it returns results that cannot be resolved inside the great firewall of China.

I have had enuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30630038)

fuck google!
http://www.censortube.eu/

Not possible. (1)

Sukhbir (961063) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630050)

I hardly doubt it that if someone posted such stuff on the Internet, it could start riots. I have never seen anything like this happen (at least in India), but then I live in a peaceful state. By far, the people who engage in such riots are illiterate to the core and don't bother about what is posted on the Internet. The politicians spread more hatred than these online groups can. Behind all such decisions of censorship are the politicians who want votes. If they publicly come out against any such group, their vote banks are favored.

Hey google, what happend to freedom of information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30630054)

How hypocrite can you be?
Give the people the freedom that they deserve, you are suppose to revolutionize the information age, not go back to the same government-takeover media that was until the 2000's!

But where does it stop? What's the limit? (4, Interesting)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630058)

Trying to accommodate the demands of each foreign country's governments on a case-by-case basis in order to do business in their countries is an extremely dangerous game to play. You can rationalize away small losses of freedom as "fitting in with national conditions", but there is nothing to stop "fitting in" going all the way to directly supporting dictatorships and the worst kind of abuses of human rights.

When you don't have fixed principles, you have no principles at all.

Some will say "Google does have a fixed principle: to make money." The trouble is, that is not a principle about human rights, it's a principle that expressly allows human rights to be negotiated away. In effect, it's a principle to do evil against people in order to do well for profits.

Google needs to get its head sorted out before this starts to go really bad. Because it will.

Slashdot Google Fan Club (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30630062)

Spend enough time around here and you'll see posts from the "Google Can Do No Wrong" crowd. Guys, cheering Google beating Microsoft is like people in Poland cheering the Red Army as it pushed back the Germans. It used to be said that the Internet Routes Around Censorship - but very soon it will be impossible to route around Google.

honestly, I don't think Lord Rama cares (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630084)

And not just because he doesn't exist. ;-)

"Ideas are very dangerous things"... (1)

Dr_Marvin_Monroe (550052) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630090)

I think that's how I remembered the quote from one of those "bug" movies, where the evil dicator bug was trying to explain almost exactly the same topic.

There is an important distinction between falsely crying "Fire" in a crowded movie house and exposing a corrupted government and potentially causing mass riots. Both involve possible harm, one is definitely not protected free speech and the other should always be. The difference seems to follow whether the statements are actually true or not.

Google, Bing, Yahoo, and the other corps seem to only be interested in protecting their profits. If they cared about the truth, the Tiananmen square would be available for computer users in China and censorship wouldn't exist on the web. The idea that we could/should create "protected" internet by censoring disturbing content, where only "good" ideas are allowed to remain is to keep ideas away from everyone. If you really want to "think of the children," you'll protect their right to say or write anything they choose into the internet. If you don't like what you see, turn off your compter or go somewhere else. Remember, you chose to read Slashdot, you chose to read this! (Uncle Malchick excluded, I've chained him to a chair and I show him Slashdot content as part of his treatment)

I'm not quite sure how I come down on the Indian instance. I don't know if it was true or slander, or even what the authors wrote. If it was even partially true, Google should be ashamed. If it wasn't true, who cares... it will prob. get picked up over on DrudgeReport and onto Fox News.

If we start down this road, the next stop is censoring the 9/11 conspiricy folks, because they're ideas are disturbing people, and so on and so on...

Hmmm.. On second though, I think I'd better get my attitude straightened out...

So is there any country in the world... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30630152)

...where information passes freely from one person to another without the constant threat of jackboots and lawyers?

The Difference between India and the West (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30630270)

The difference between India and the West is that India worships Hindu gods while the West worships democracy and free speech.

If you offend any of the above gods, there are going to be riots (both in India and the West)

So, tell me ... what is the *real* difference between the two? Is it merely a difference of faith?

Oppression to fix oppression (2, Interesting)

paulkoan (769542) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630302)

If your nation is so on the verge of rioting that some commentary on a website is all that is required as a trigger, further removal of civil liberties may not be the best course of action.

Honesty (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30630330)

Well, at least they're being honest enough to admit that this is a violation of free speech. (As opposed to those spineless cowards who think that 'free speech' means 'free speech ... as long as I agree with it'.)

the real problem (3, Insightful)

belmolis (702863) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630358)

If somebody starts abusing Lord Rama on a Web site, that could start riots

This is a huge problem. Any country in which people will riot because someone criticizes their religion, political party, or favorite celebrity is a country in which people don't understand the notion of a civil society.

Individuality and tact (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30630382)

Individuality and tact need not be mutually exclusive. Often these problems occur when tact is forgotten while pursuing notionally laudable goals such as the promotion of free speech. No matter how much you (or I) disagree with the statement "Jews/Blacks/Gays Are Evil", we know that freedom of speech permits such statements to be made in public, yet people are wary of saying those things off the cuff. The difference is that in the Jew/Black/Gay case, a person saying that in the USA knows that US society does not approve, whereas an American in Indian society (however that's defined) often has no idea/a different idea of what passes for acceptable in India.

"Do as the Romans do" really is the point, but it is surprising how often even folk advice flies over people who do not care for discussions on ideas about society.

(Of course, what I said is complicated by the US idea of individualism. But that doesn't matter here.)

There is *ALWAYS* a "good" reason ! (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630522)

What? Do you think censorship and other oppressions steal theatrically onto the scene in the guise of an Snidely Whiplash or some other obvious villain?

No, no, a thousand times no. Very earnest and well intentioned men promulgate evil most often in the guise of preventing greater evil. Harm to children, innocents or other spectres are proffered. These spectacular horrors are given to distract you and "justify" far more pervasive oppressions. Searching your underwear so an airplane does not crash. Using the spectacular size difference to hide an even more enormous frequency difference.

Even if the "riots" are not exaggerated hyperbole (which would not surprise me), then the serious question is why such people have been so stressed they have only rioting as an outlet. Because if it is not one trigger, it will be some other. Simple disagreeing, disagreeable or even insulting information does not drive normal people to violence. That is way up the ladder of provocation.

Smells like bullshit (1)

Boronx (228853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30630534)

By definition whatever they were censoring had been on the internet and didn't cause riots, so what's their excuse again?

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