Hindu group making software to partly block Orkut

MUMBAI (Reuters) - A right-wing Hindu group has asked public Internet centers in India to partly block access to Orkut, and is making a software to monitor abusive communities on the popular social networking site operated by Google.

The student wing of the Shiv Sena party said many Indians use Orkut to bad-mouth religious groups and disturb communal harmony, and also spread misinformation about India.

The group is part of a growing band of cultural vigilantes opposed to what they see as increasing mimicry of the West. It often stops St. Valentine’s Day celebrations, attacks clubs and pubs and prevents screening of sexually bold films.

“Orkut is used by many destructive elements to spread canards about India, Hindus, our gods and cultural heritage,” said Abhijit Phanse, president of Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena, the student group.

“We are gently telling Internet cafe owners that it is their responsibility to see that surfers do not use their facility to carry out such hate campaigns,” he said.

“Or else, we will have to do that job for them.”

Last week, dozens of Shiv Sena workers vandalised some Internet centers, saying they were not stopping their customers from accessing Orkut groups involved in sending hate messages.

“We are not saying all of Orkut should be shut. We are just saying stop access to those groups that indulge in hate campaigns,” Phanse said.

Internet cafe owners said they had received a letter from the group saying that if they did not spot and stop people surfing Orkut to spread hate messages, their businesses would be attacked.

“The letter was pasted on our wall. But what can we do? It is up to the Internet service providers to block a site,” said a cyber cafe owner who was too scared to be named.

Phanse said his group was developing a special software that Internet service providers could install to block any message containing certain words and phrases such as “I hate” or “I despise”.

“The software should be ready in 2-3 months,” Phanse said, adding that they were hoping to involve Orkut authorities in the discussions.