Idiocy in South Asia

Exhibit A:

You would think that a country with an information technology sector with revenues in excess of $75 billion would have a government which knows how the internet works. But you would be wrong.

Please check out what Kapil Sibal, India’s Telecom Minister, is demanding of Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft:

About six weeks ago, Mr. Sibal called legal representatives from the top Internet service providers and Facebook into his New Delhi office, said one of the executives who was briefed on the meeting.

At the meeting, Mr. Sibal showed attendees a Facebook page that maligned the Congress Party’s president, Sonia Gandhi.  “This is unacceptable,” he told attendees, the executive said, and he asked them to find a way to monitor what is posted on their sites.

In the second meeting with the same executives in late November, Mr. Sibal told them that he expected them to use human beings to screen content, not technology, the executive said.

The three executives said Mr. Sibal has told these companies that he expects them to set up a proactive prescreening system, with staffers looking for objectionable content and deleting it before it is posted.

Of course, this brings to mind the Lahore High Court’s efforts to ban Facebook because of “blasphemous” material published on it.

LAHORE: Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed of the Lahore High Court on Monday directed the Ministry of Information Technology to submit a report by October 6 on a petition seeking a permanent ban on the access to American social networking website Facebook for hosting a competition featuring blasphemous caricatures.

The judge also directed the ministry to block access to all websites in Pakistan spreading religious hatred on the Internet. The judge made it clear that no search engine, including Google, would be blocked during this process.

The judge was hearing a petition moved by Muhammad and Ahmad, a public interest litigation firm, through chairman Muhammad Azhar Siddique.

The petitioner submitted that Islamic values were being derogated in the name of information, which was hurting the feelings of billions of Muslims. He submitted that despite clear direction by the court, the ministry had not blocked websites spreading religious hatred.

I really don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that these people’s teenage children or nephews or nieces would know more about the digital world than they do.

Exhibit B:

With this one, the headline speaks for itself, and I will add no commentary.

“Pakistan arrests Indian monkey for crossing border”

(Presumably, this was a tit-for-tat measure for India holding in detention a pigeon suspected of spying for Pakistan last year. And to this blog’s western readers, no, neither the monkey story nor the pigeon story are from The Onion; they’re very much real).

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