Delhi HC warns Facebook, Google of China-like ban if offensive content not checked

Delhi HC warns Facebook, Google of China-like ban if offensive content not checked

The Delhi High Court wants the social-networking websites to develop a mechanism to check and remove offensive and objectionable material from their web pages.

Is India going the China way when it comes to controlling electronic information ? Not really. But going by the mood in the government and the judiciary, it just might.

That's what the Delhi High Court threatened Facebook (India) and Google (India) with during a hearing seeking a stay on the ongoing proceedings against social networking sites.

"Like China, we will block all such websites," Justice Suresh Kait warned on Thursday, while asking the counsels for Facebook and Google to develop a mechanism to keep a check and remove offensive and objectionable material from their web pages.

Justice Kait also refused to stay the proceedings against the websites before the magistrate's court, scheduled on Friday, and has fixed Monday as the next date of hearing.

The Delhi High Court's tirade comes in the wake of HRD minister Kapil Sibal asking social networking sites to filter content before posting it on their web pages.

Hackers 'avenge' suit

Vigilante justice got a new meaning when hackers cracked into the website on January 3 to protest against the owner Mufti Ijaaz Kasmi's petition against social networking sites in a Delhi court.

Their message was clear: "This site has been hacked. This has been brought on by the people who declared war on the social networking sites as well as any site that posts anything against religion. When you attack social networking sites then expect people to come back at you tenfold. We will NOT tolerate your stupidity no longer. The non- religious are starting to notice how extremist the religious are becoming and we have had enough. (sic)"

Kasmi will be filing a criminal complaint against the hackers.

Defending Google (India), former additional solicitor general Mukul Rohatgi said on Thursday that it was not possible for website owners to filter or monitor the content being posted on their sites.

"No human interference is possible, and moreover, it is not 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," Rohatgi told the court.

He also tried to shift the blame on the US- based Google Inc, saying it was different from Google India.

He added that the former was the service provider, and not the latter.

Rohatgi cited provisions under the Information Technology Act and said websites enjoyed the protection of law where such objectionable material was concerned, as long as they were not the authors.

"The websites may lose the legal protection if they either modify or monitor the article or comments or fail to deal with the complaints of an affected person or the government on such issues," Rohatgi claimed.

Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for Facebook (India), questioned the authenticity of the documents submitted by the complainant, Vinay Rai, who had accused the websites of conniving with each other and various unknown persons to publicly sell, exhibit and circulate obscene and lascivious content.

"We do not know as to when, how and from where the documents came into being. They are not the documents as per the provisions of the Evidence Act. Moreover, a social networking site cannot be held accountable for the acts of third parties," Luthra said.

Courtesy: Mail Today

Published on: Jan 13, 2012, 1:12 PM IST
Posted by: Gaytri Madhura, Jan 13, 2012, 1:12 PM IST