Google tweets get in touch with Uncle Sam: Social networking sites don't give government details on North East hate sites 

The unprecedented cyber terrorism unleashed against people from the North-East triggered the biggest exodus within the country last week, but the big brothers of the World Wide Web have told the Indian government to dial Uncle Sam if it wants them to share information about the hate mongers.

Citing jurisdiction issues, Google, Twitter and Facebook have asked the government to route its request to share information on the web pages containing inflammatory content through the US government.

Rumours and morphed images circulated on these websites had fuelled a hate campaign against the North-Eastern people, triggering their panic run to their home states from various parts of India.

The government wants Internet firms, such as Facebook, to keep a tab on 'objectionable' content

The government wants Internet firms, such as Facebook, to keep a tab on 'objectionable' content

Proxy servers and Virtual Private Network services, which conceal the user identity operating from a number of countries, appear to have been used for uploading inciting posts and images.

The government wants these sites to provide the registration details and access logs of the people who uploaded such content. Most of them were suspected to be from Pakistan.

'The government had sent a request to the social networking sites to remove the inflammatory content and had also sought some information related to web accounts and activities to track down the groups involved in the hate campaign,' a senior official in the ministry of communication
and information technology (IT) told Mail Today.

'However, the websites have refused to comply on the grounds that they are not obliged to part with any such information as the details required are stored outside India.

They have added that any such request for information and details about IP addresses which are outside India must be routed via the US government,' the official said.

The state government has asked deputy commissioners to keep a watch on cyber cafes

The state government has asked deputy commissioners to keep a watch on cyber cafes

Google, which also controls YouTube and, wants the government to approach it through the US government, with which India has a mutual legal assistance treaty.

'Google has informed that since it is governed by local laws in the
US, it would be difficult for the company to co-operate directly
with India.

We are approaching the US government through an
official request and letter rogatory to block web pages and also
provide us the registration details and access logs of the persons
who uploaded such content,' a home ministry official said.

Their brazen refusal, as also the government’s reluctance to take
a tough stand on the matter, has surprised cyber law experts.

'Going via the US channel is not a good idea. The government must
take a tough stand as this is a very serious matter related to national security,” cyber law expert Pawan Duggal said.

'I think it is high time the government adopted the Chinese way in
this regard. If these sites are operating in India and their content is
directed towards the Indian audience, they must comply with the
country’s IT law. This is the standard practice across the world.

They cannot get away by saying that they operate under the US
law. Our IT law has provisions for punitive action in such cases.”
Google, on its part, issued a statement on Tuesday saying any
content intended to incite violence was already prohibited on
its sites, including YouTube videos. 'We understand the gravity
of the situation... and continue to work closely with relevant
authorities,' it said.

Cyber Crime Expert Pawan Duggal said sites operating in India must comply with the country's laws

Cyber Crime Expert Pawan Duggal said sites operating in India must comply with the country's laws

However, sources in the company added that the government’s request to share information could not be immediately complied with. “We are ready to cooperate on removing such content, but what they are asking for
are details of IP addresses and particulars of the users. As these are
outside Indian jurisdiction, they have to route the request via the
US government,” a senior official in Google India said.

Twitter and Facebook were not immediately available for comment.

But Twitter is proving to be an equally tough nut to crack as the microblogging site has refused to block a number of web pages, as asked by the Union home ministry.

Ministry officials said out of the 310 web pages flagged by the government
for carrying inflammatory content related to the Assam violence, only 207 have been effectively blocked so far.

Twitter was 'not very keen' to block 28 web pages which still carried content that could incite passions, they added.

'The resistance being posed by Twitter is now being taken up with the website through a direction being issued again on Tuesday,' a ministry official said.


A statement from the ministry of communications and IT said: 'An intermediary social networking site has responded that the up-loaders of the inflammatory and hateful content are outside the jurisdiction of the country, thereby implying that they are not obliged to take any constructive step to deal with it.'

To build a solid case against Pakistan in the matter, the government
is now banking on the US as well as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, from whose territories the servers seem to be have been used as proxy to upload inflammatory content to cause communal disharmony in India.

'Three organisations in Pakistan —Jamait-e-Islami, Tehreek-e-Insaaf and a private TV channel of Pakistan — are under the scanner for uploading such content. We need to establish the chain of such content
being uploaded and the US has to help us out in a big way,' the home ministry official said.

While the government might have to wait for US assistance to get
the details sought, it has decided to crack the whip on the websites
which have refused to remove inflammatory content. 'We have
got strict orders from the home ministry to block all such sites.

'We have shortlisted 350 more such web pages which will be blocked
for spreading hate messages,' an IT ministry official said.

The move came a day after the government announced to block
254 web pages for posting inflammatory content.

The department of electronics & IT had issued an advisory last week to all the intermediaries, including national and international websites, advising them to take necessary action on priority basis to disable inflammatory and
hateful content hosted on their websites.

But many of such “inflammatory” web pages have still not been blocked.

keeping a check