There isn't much clarity on what kind of content might be restricted in every nation, but India stands a good chance to lose the voice against government, among other topics
BANGALORE, INDIA: Twitter's marked deviation from its erstwhile 'free' policy to restricting certain contents posted by its users, primarily based on the nation they belong to and the 'laws of their land', leaves a lot of questions unanswered.
"Until now, the only way we could take account of those countries' limits was to remove content globally. Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country – while keeping it available in the rest of the world," Twitter said in an official blogpost on Thursday.
For one, there isn't much clarity on what kind of content would be restricted and taken off, but only that it would differ from nation to nation, with certain universally offensive topics.
"We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why," says Twitter, adding that if and when required, it would withhold tweets from a specific country, intimate the user concerned and clearly marked the content as withheld.
As far as India is concerned, anti-government remarks wouldn't be taken lightly, observed cyber law consultant Na. Vijayashankar. "They might block some keywords relating to terrorism, bombs, pornography and obscenity, which are universal. Political and government criticism would be specific to countries like India and Burma," he explained.
Vijayashankar felt that the move might have direct relevance to what's happening with Facebook, Google and other social networking sites.
Some contents that are deemed offensive in a region like south-east Asia, including anti-religious remarks, border affairs and something to do with regional boundaries, might also face the axe. "When it comes to restrictions, it is inevitable for these to be taken note of, especially considering the Indian government's recent stand on these issues," says a cyber security expert.
In the bargain, it is rather unfortunate that freedom of speech of citizens of various countries is in line to being curbed, the expert pointed out.
If and when required, as Twitter says – which doesn't seem far off – one can expect voices and views regarding cases that are subjudice, parliamentary proceedings as well as spurious claims in ads about dubious products and services, to be banned.