Minister: Facebook, Google+ should set up servers in India

Rajasthan state chief minister says government should request social networking sites set up servers in country to track "miscreants" behind comments that cause communal tension, according to report.

The chief minister of Indian state Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot, has proposed that social networking sites such as Facebook and Google+ be asked to set up their servers in India so that early action can be taken against "miscreants" who post provocative comments on such sites, according to a local daily.

The Times of India reported Monday that Gehlot said at a chief ministers' conference in New Delhi that some provocative comments on Facebook resulted in communal tension in a region of his state. The conference included Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

According to Gehlot, "effective action was taken immediately against the miscreants". While his government complied with the idea of freedom of expression, such freedom should not be misused by communal elements and needs to be dealt with all severity, he added.

Gehlot suggested that the government either develop a system that can obtain information from the servers on a real-time basis or make it mandatory for social networking companies to set up their servers in India.

"I would appreciate if these sites could develop a system which by itself prevents posting of material with communal and anti-national overtones," he said. "As the servers of these social networking sites are located outside the country, it becomes an arduous task to obtain any information related to such incidents."

The Indian authorities, citing national security reasons, have in the past requested that foreign IT companies to set up their servers in the country to access user data, and for international Web sites to remove objectionable content.

Last February, Research In Motion (RIM) finally acceded to India's demands to set up a server in Mumbai so that the government could directly access data on its BlackBerry enterprise servers.

In that same month, Facebook and Google also removed allegedly offensive contents from their Indian sites, after a local court said their sites would be blocked if they did not do so.


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