Indian court warns 'China-like censorship' for Google, Facebook, others

Indian court warns 'China-like censorship' for Google, Facebook, others

Summary: The High Court in India is warning it will ban websites Facebook, Google, Yahoo etc 'like China' if they do not comply with requests to remove offensive content.

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Delhi's High Court has warned Google, Facebook, Yahoo and others they will be 'blocked' in India if they fail to check and censor content.

Justice Suresh Kait warned, "Like China, we too can block such websites".

The sites have been advised to create a mechanism to remove "offensive and objectionable" content from their services.

The case began with a complaint from journalist Vinay Rai. Representatives of the 21 companies in total were summoned to court. Last month a civil judge gave the sites a deadline to remove all "anti-social" and "anti-religious" content by February 6th.

Google and Facebook hold a global policy of non-interference, but the companies have been warned that this policy will not work in India.

Lawyer Mukul Rohatgi, who spoke for Google India, said that it isn't possible to monitor posts in that way. "No human interference is possible. Moreover, it can't be feasible to check such incidents. Billions of people post their articles on the website". He added, "They may be defamatory and obscene, but cannot be checked".

Rohatgi also took pains to distinguish Google India from U.S.-based Google Inc., reminding the court that they cannot be held liable for alleged offenses against them. "It is a criminal case where a vicarious liability cannot be fastened on a company which has no role, whatsoever, the alleged case".

The representative for Facebook India, Siddarth Luthra, also argued that the company could not be held responsible for acts of third parties.

It is a tall order to ask services as vast as Google and Facebook to remove all 'anti-social' and 'anti-religious' content, when the huge amount of users involved is taken into account. The way in which the court would directly compare their ability to 'ban' websites to China is equally worrying.

Considering that Google withdrew from China over censorship issues, could India be leading towards similar circumstances with this ongoing court proceeding?

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Topics: Google, Social Enterprise

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7 comments
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  • RE: Indian court warns 'China-like censorship' for Google, Facebook, others

    There is a logical reason why the courts have told them to remove such things.India faces a huge amount of threat from Islamic Terrorists and Right Wing Hindu Activists.Facebook and Google with their huge amount of Data in their Servers might become a platform to launch their Anti Social propaganda. No one can be above the law and if Google and Facebook want to thrive in a large Market like India,they need to follow the Law to the Book .
    samavedam_vijay@...
    • It's a stupid law...

      Think of it like this. You've got a soccer stadium with 100,000 people watching a match. Somebody in Section 12, Row 5, Seat 16 says something "anti-social" and the person sitting in front of them hears it. Using this same rationale, the soccer stadium should be shut down because they didn't adequately censor someone's speech.
      jasonp@...
  • RE: Indian court warns 'China-like censorship' for Google, Facebook, others

    Good - let India block Facebook, Google, and others and let's see how long the powers-that-be will last. Call their bluff.
    athynz
    • RE: Indian court warns 'China-like censorship' for Google, Facebook, others

      @Pete "athynz" Athens

      Yea I kinda agree, let them do it. It would probably make some people consider moving. You already have a large amount of wealthy Indians coming to the U.S. for better jobs, all they are going to do is lose people and hurt their economy.
      dtdono0
      • RE: Indian court warns 'China-like censorship' for Google, Facebook, others

        @dtdono0
        FYI, wealthy don't migrate for jobs, the middle class always migrate for jobs from one place to the other.
        Ram U
  • China has tried to block the websites

    and failed!
    India, computer geeks are smarter than politicians and bureaucrats, they will find a way around it.
    zmud
  • And how is the court going to do that?

    I don't think it's in a position to order the federal government to construct a Great Firewall or Parliament to appropriate money for it.
    John L. Ries