Thursday, January 12, 2012

Delhi HC warns FB and Google

Refusing to stay criminal proceedings against Google and Facebook, the Delhi high court on Thursday warned they may be “blocked” if they fail to devise a mechanism to check and remove objectionable contents from their webpages.
“Like China, we too can block such websites,” Justice Suresh Kait remarked during the hearing when counsels for Google and Facebook harped on their global policy of non-interference even if contents posted on their webpages are found to be obscene or objectionable. The court, however, told the internet firms that this policy won’t work in India.
Senior lawyer, appearing for Google India, said postings which are “obscene, objectionable and defamatory” cannot be “filtered” or “monitored”. “No human interference is possible. Moreover, it can’t be feasible to check such incidents. Billions of people post their articles on the website. They may be defamatory and obscene, but cannot be checked,” he argued, while trying to distinguish between Google India and its US-based holding firm Google Inc.
“The US-based Google Inc is the service provider not me (Google India) and hence, we are not liable for the action of my holding company,” Rohtagi said.
Google India, which is not a service provider, is a subsidiary of Google Inc and is a separate entity distinct from its holding US-based firm. It has a separate legal identity. Moreover, it is not bound by the acts or offences committed by its holding company,” the company maintained.
“Even Google Inc cannot be held accountable for the acts of third parties who simply used the websites for posting or publishing “obscene or objectionable” materials, added, pointing out that “We cannot control billion minds. Some are conservative, some are liberal and some write all the defamatory and obnoxious articles on web pages. There is a procedure for getting them removed.”
Senior advocate N K Kaul also blamed the complainant and the trial judge for not doing their homework.
“With great respect, neither the complainant nor the trial judge did the homework before setting the criminal law into motion.”
Search engines like Google India did not host material and it simply takes a netizen to his destination, he said.He, however, assured the court that if the complainant, Vinay Rai, provided defamatory articles to Google India, then it can use “its good office” in getting them removed by its US firm.

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