NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court seems to be hell bent on defining the boundary for government sanctioned internet control. On Thursday it refused to quash a criminal complaint against Google and Facebook regarding inflammatory images of some Gods and Goddesses. It warned the websites to comply and devise a mechanism to control objectionable content.
Justice Suresh Cait told lawyers from Facebook India and Google India. “Like China, we can block all such websites (who don’t comply). But let us not go to that situation….at present it’s 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,” he told lawyers of Google India and Facebook India in a packed courtroom.
The Hon’ble Judge Suresh Cait refused to accept 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.
Appearing for Google India, former Additional Solicitor General Mukul Rohatgi cited exemption from liability and that they don’t control or administer the content on the websites but are 100% subsidiaries of the parent companies based in the US. The companies also said that the postings of obscene, objectionable and defamatory articles cannot be filtered or monitored. It also claimed it to be not feasible to check such incidents since billions of people across the globe post their articles on the web site.
After the Judge refused to stay proceedings or quash the criminal complaint, lawyers from Google India suggested that if the complainant cited specifically, it could request Google Inc, to remove the ‘objectionable’ weblinks from its websites.
Facebook and Google shifted the onus of monitoring obscene imagery online on to Internet Service Providers in India such as Bharti Airtel, BSNL and Reliance, saying that under their license conditions they are liable to block it.
After the Kapil Sibal led the initiative to make Facebook and Google comply to filtering of sensitive content, the government seems to have got the court on its side. The court on their part have been diligently zeroing in on forcing the two companies with more than 121 millions users in India and billions world wide to filter content.