NEW DELHI, INDIA : The internet search engine Google India and the popular networking website Facebook India has been warned by Delhi High Court to develop and implement a method to check and delete objectionable materials from their web pages.
Earlier Kapil Sibal (Minister of Communications and Information Technology and Minister of Human Resources and Development, Central Government India) has strongly objected to internet biggies for political-defaming images and god-godesses inflammatory images. His move to control internet data was strongly criticized and condemned across social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, orkut and Google+ etc.
Vinay Rai had filed a complaint against internet biggies. On his complaint the trial court had earlier summoned representatives of 21 social networking websites, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, YouTube and Yahoo. It had also instructed the centre to for immediate and appropriate actions and file a report on January 13, 2012.
Senior lawyer Naveen Sharma from Delhi Police, and SPM Tripathi, counsel for Vinay Rai, will also formally present their opinions on January 16, 2012 – the date set for further hearing.
The lawsuit has been filed under several sections of IPC (Indian Penal Code). These are – section 292 (sale of obscene books etc), 293 (sale of obscene objects to young person etc) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy).
A civil judge had last month ordered the social networking websites to delete all anti-religious or anti-social data by February 6, 2012.
The Hon’ble Judge, Justice Suresh Kait directed Facebook and Google India to deviseand implement a mechanism to control and remove offensive and objectionable data from their web pages. He discarded Google India’s argument that it is just a distributor of Google Inc’s Adwords program. He added that liability of content falls on it as it is a beneficiary and does business in India. He warned :
If a contraband is found in your house, it is your liability to take action against it. Like China, we can block all such websites. But let us not go to that situation.
At present, it is obscene images of Gods and Goddesses, tomorrow it can be an image of someone in your family posted online. There has to be some control.
Cyber Law Expert Speaks
Cyber law expert Pavan Duggal told reporters about legal code of conduct for internet websites. He said :
Under section 79, the websites are duty bound to take suo moto action and remove such content if they obtain its knowledge. Thus websites can’t go scot-free if they obtain such knowledge. The Indian IT Act applies to any entity in the world whose services impact a computer system in India.
Former Additional Solicitor General Mukul Rohatgi has appeared for Google India. He said :
The postings of obscene, objectionable and defamatory articles and other things cannot be filtered or monitored. No human interference is possible, and moreover, it can’t be feasible to check such incidents. Billions of people across the globe, post their articles on the website. Yes, they may be defamatory, obscene but cannot be checked.
The US-based Google Inc is the service provider and not me (Google India) and hence, we are not liable for the action of my holding company. Moreover, it is criminal case where a vicarious liability can be fastened on a company which has no role, whatsoever, in the alleged offence.
We can’t even tell Google Inc, to upload or not upload a particular article. Google India is a completely different legal entity from Google Inc, which controls the platform.