Indian court threatens to block Google, Facebook

By AFP
Published: January 13, 2012
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An Indian court has threatened to block  sites such as Facebook and Google unless they take steps to eliminate "offensive and objectionable" content.

An Indian court has threatened to block sites such as Facebook and Google unless they take steps to eliminate "offensive and objectionable" content.

NEW DEHLI: An Indian court has threatened to block  sites such as Facebook and Google unless they take steps to eliminate “offensive and objectionable” content.

“You must have a stringent check. Otherwise, like in China, we may pass orders banning all such websites,” the Delhi High Court said during a hearing Thursday with legal representatives for Facebook and Google India.

Both companies should “develop a mechanism to keep a check and remove offensive and objectionable material from their web pages”, Justice Suresh Kait was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.

Communications Minister Kapil Sibal last month pledged a crackdown on “unacceptable” online content, saying Internet service providers had ignored India’s demands to screen images and data before they are uploaded.

He provided examples of faked naked pictures of Indian political leaders and religiously sensitive images.

Sibal’s comments provoked anger and derision among Indian Internet users, with experts arguing that such demands could not be enforced and smacked of state censorship.

“No human interference is possible and, moreover, it can’t be feasible to check such incidents,” Mukul Rohatgi, a lawyer for Google India, told the High Court hearing.

India, the world’s largest democracy, has more than 110 million Internet users out of a population of 1.2 billion, with predictions that 600 million people will be online in the next five years.

Facebook and Google had moved the High Court to stay a summons issued last month by a lower court that is hearing a private criminal complaint against them.

Facebook is officially blocked in China, while Google pulled its search engine out of the country two years ago after a confrontation with Chinese authorities over censorship.

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Reader Comments (31)

  • Zaid Hamid
    Jan 13, 2012 - 2:26PM

    @editor – there is no such word as ‘faked’

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  • Essa
    Jan 13, 2012 - 4:13PM

    When Will our courts wake up???

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  • Mj
    Jan 13, 2012 - 4:15PM

    Why do the religious people always feel it their imperative to restrict the freedom of speech and expression of others?

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  • Ali
    Jan 13, 2012 - 5:06PM

    Good step!!!! Its good to see that Hindus also respect their religion and won’t tolerate any insult. But “Morally corrupt liberal secular Muslims” of Pakistan will not do anything for their religion.Recommend

  • Salman
    Jan 13, 2012 - 5:07PM

    lol @ Indian hypocrisy and these ppl used to laugh on our fb ban by the LHC

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  • A.Khan
    Jan 13, 2012 - 5:09PM

    I really wonder if they could ban google and fb in India. Even after such offensive contents, there are millions of other people using those to whom it is not offensive

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  • ali baba
    Jan 13, 2012 - 5:13PM

    good move pakistan will follow cuz we have tendency to follow n compare ourself with mother india,(freedom of speech),now they should ban shiv sena ,rss, bajrang dal,hindutava then pakistan will follow

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  • SalSal
    Jan 13, 2012 - 5:20PM

    @MJ
    Keep your freedom of insulting others to yourself. You don’t mind people saying any crap about you doesn’t mean others also don’t care. Nobody should make fun or ridicule any religion or mock at somebody’s personality or put up indecent pictures of someone. To hell with such freedom which seeks abuse others!!

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Jan 13, 2012 - 6:24PM

    Indian court cannot do that. It is just spectulation and nothing else.

    The day Indian Court will annouce the judgement, people will come out on streets out of frustration.

    Let the people should sit in front of the computer so that they should remain calm.

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  • Sobriquet
    Jan 13, 2012 - 6:32PM

    @Zaid Hamid: Faked is the verb for fake.

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  • Vicram Singh
    Jan 13, 2012 - 6:38PM

    There should be no censorship – people should be able to put objectionable content without exception.

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  • IndiKid
    Jan 13, 2012 - 7:01PM

    @Ali: I am a Hindu but I am dead against the idea of internet censorship. Even if internet sites are spreading blasphemy(to which I dont give a damn), let them. Freedom of speech is very very sacred.

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  • Indian
    Jan 13, 2012 - 7:05PM

    @Ali:
    There you go again…. It is not about religion, it is about objectionable content… That too a umbrella cover that the govt is adopting to get rid of the anti-Congress and anti-Sonia things coming up in the facebook… Grow up and learn to be a human and then a nationalist but not a fascist..

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  • Indian
    Jan 13, 2012 - 7:14PM

    @ali baba:
    Oh my dear friend, please tell me what the rss, hindutva etc have done to Pakistanis that you Pakistanis drag them into your quotations every time. They are an internal headache for India and are gradually loosing ground. Is it that you hate them because they are sometimes covertly. By the way even if they did, it will be an issue of one Indian vs another Indian. Where does Pakistan even figure in any of this equation? Recommend

  • Jan 13, 2012 - 7:33PM

    mandatorily all social net users will have to provide their voter ID!!! In case of minors parents voter id should be asked for???? somebody must be held accountable!

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  • Misbah
    Jan 13, 2012 - 7:57PM

    Misuse of freedom of speech. Facebook is the new threaten that ruins up your privacy and other religious issues.

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  • Katarina
    Jan 13, 2012 - 10:17PM

    Internet is not forcing anyone to view “offensive and objectionable content”. It is really a stupid thing to start to block sites.

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  • Wheer are our neighbours now?
    Jan 13, 2012 - 10:22PM

    LOL………………. I guess the joke is on our visitors from across the baadar…………

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  • R S JOHAR
    Jan 13, 2012 - 10:50PM

    A case of shadow boxing and nothing more.

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  • Mj
    Jan 14, 2012 - 12:33AM

    @SalSal:
    Your remarks have offended me deeply, good sir. I demand satisfaction :|

    To quote Stephen Fry, “It’s now very common to hear people say, “I’m rather offended by that”, as if that gives them certain rights. It’s no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. “I’m offended by that.” Well, so ^%$*#%&g what?”

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  • Azharuddin Masood
    Jan 14, 2012 - 1:13AM

    What’s good for goose should be good for gander and what one preaches should also practice. We Indians are known hypocrites world over. On one side we claim to be the world champions for freedom of speech and on other hand we cannot tolerate an iota of criticism towards us. When something objectionable material is published towards Islam all Hindus become champion for freedom of speech and try to justify it and say Muslims are not tolerant enough and when something critical is published against Hinduism or India they can’t tolerate and they wobble out and this is why we Indians call ourselves Mahan with our Nation Mera Bharat Mahan.

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  • John B
    Jan 14, 2012 - 1:15AM

    I doubt if the lower court decision will hold up when challenged in the higher courts.

    It is true some of the caricature typically used to be in print media cartoonist has gone too far in the Internet with vulgar depictions. If the uploaded doctored images are from Indian users, the affected party can bring defamation suit against the individual and the sites that promote them can also be held liable. However, what if some lunatic sitting outside of the Indian borders does this?

    As far as affecting religious sentiment nonsense, the courts have no say and I vote with the freedom of expression and free speech.

    The citizens also have responsibility in preserving free speech and expression. Free speech and expression do not mean unrestricted anarchy. It is a balancing act.

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  • Delhi Belly
    Jan 14, 2012 - 2:09AM

    Mockery of democracy. respecting religious sentiments is good. But people in general have to become less sentimental about comments and not see everything as blasphemy. People have right of opinion and it is one’s weakness if he / she cannot take the opinion. It is like saying I dont like it so you have no right to speak it. religious comments are one of them. People have to start realizing how much they should value religion compare to human life and quality of human life.
    Disappointing spin less Sardar who is our Minister.

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  • Eruve
    Jan 14, 2012 - 6:01AM

    Kapil Sibal is an idiot. Internet users already know what they need to know about Congress and his boss Sonia. He can’t stop the the information flow not can he take on the IT giants. His actions just proves what we know about him and his boss.

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  • Indian
    Jan 14, 2012 - 7:49AM

    @Azharuddin Masood:
    Dear friend,
    If you have not noted above equal if not most of the Indian commentators have ridiculed what the government if doing and most of these are Hindus. Kindly come out of the self imposed victim hood and stereotypy.

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  • lota6177
    Jan 14, 2012 - 10:03AM

    Freedom of speech is more scared than any holy book or any religion.

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  • from India
    Jan 14, 2012 - 10:08AM

    Justice Suresh Kait is narrow minded judge who had spent more than half of his career in rural and semi-urban areas. His mentality prevents him to think like the urban net users, hence such stupid judgments being passed. Unfortunately in India judges have to handle such cases on emerging concepts of law (cyber law in this case), on which they lack expertise.

    However, there is nothing to worry about, since, Supreme Court have the finest judges who will easily give relief to these internet giants. Btw, do you guys know Mr. Rohatgi charged Rs. 25 lakhs per hearing from Google on this ? Cyber law can really make you rich :-)

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  • ethicalman
    Jan 14, 2012 - 2:54PM

    the main objective of this censorship is to block all the pages that are against Congress, particularly Sonia Gandhi and her cronies. jeez Sibal, Salman Khrushid, Rashid Alvi, Chidambaram, Sanghvi, Digvijay etc. Recommend

  • ethicalman
    Jan 14, 2012 - 2:55PM

    If being divisive and causing class conflict is a charge against social networking, we should prosecute political parties for the same.

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  • Usman
    Jan 14, 2012 - 3:58PM

    Yes there isRecommend

  • Prashant
    Jan 15, 2012 - 9:45AM

    @from India:
    you are saying that urban net users are good and rural net users are orthodox. there is line between Freedom and Crime. you have right to express your view without hurting the sentiment of others. You have right to be atheist but it doesn’t gives you right to use your mouth against people who believes in God. Recommend

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