Now, a Ban on Orkut?
A petition has been filed in the Bombay High Court for banning the social networking site, Orkut, which is owned by Google, according to this report. Apparently, the petitioner, a certain Subodh Balsaraf of Thane, found that ‘Orkut’ used “slang, rude and vulgar language” about the Maratha king Shivaji. Disturbingly, Orkut has already been banned in Pune by the police after the occurrence of a few violent incidents there.
I’m surprised. Does Mr. Balsaraf or for the matter the police even know how Orkut works? Orkut by itself does not post any inflammatory remarks. It is some people who are bent on stirring things up that start these ‘hate’ communities. I even know of a few ‘Hate India’ communities started by some Pakistanis on Orkut.
There is a feature on Orkut to report about such communities to the people who run Orkut. Apparently, if enough complaints are received, steps are taken to remove that community. Now, I’m not very sure how effective this report back feature is but if you have a problem about certain people posting defamatory remarks about your idol you should first write to the people who run the site. Banning the complete site won’t help. It will only cause inconvenience to thousands of others. Orkut is actually very popular among Indians and is used by many, including myself, to keep in touch with friends and people sharing similar interests from around the world.
There are all kinds of loonies on the internet who would like nothing better than to cause trouble and stir up hatred. We should be on our guard and not let our emotions blind us. A ban on Orkut will only be playing into the hands of such trouble makers. Apart from that, it is putting a restriction on the way people access the internet. A road, which in my opinion, we should never take as an open and democratic country. If not anything it will set a bad precedent. Tomorrow, there will be similar demands to ban all kinds of different websites just because they seem to cause ‘hurt’ to some people. For example, searching for ‘Hate India’ on Google returns about 3,210,000 links. Should we ban Google also for linking to such sites, some of which genuinely propagate hate against India?
If the court does end up banning the site, it will prevent access to a simple tool that helps enhance social interaction between people living in different parts of India and the world. I hope the Bombay High Court, after due process, throws this petition right out of the window.