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No censorship but objectionable matter will be removed: Sibal

Communications Minister Kapil Sibal Tuesday said that the government would take steps to screen and eliminate "objectionable" content on social networking sites after platforms like Facebook, during a meeting with the minister, declined to remove offensive content.

"Religious sentiments of many communities and of any reasonable person is being hurt because of content which is on the sites," Sibal told reporters here.

The minister said he had first met with officials of Facebook, Twitter and Orkut on Sep 5 to discuss the concerns of the government over objectionable pictures being posted on their sites by users.

The pictures, which were shown off the record, depicted Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in bad light, while some others were insulting to various religions.

After a series of meetings, the companies still did not provide a solution to the problem and did not remove the content either.

"The secretary, department of telecommunication, Chandershaker called a meeting with them on Oct 19 and it was decided that a framework would be prepared for the code of conduct of the intermediary in cases of these kinds of material or content," said Sibal.

"They orally agreed to many of the clauses but in a written reply did not agreed to any of the clauses," he added.

The minister said he did not want to come to the press on this issue but was forced to do so after the New York Times reported that the government was trying to censor these sites, which was not true.

"This is far from the truth. If someone does not wants to remove this kind of incendiary material then the government has to do something about it," said Sibal.

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