Thursday, February 16, 2017

SC pulls up search engines over sex selection content

The Supreme Court pulled up internet giants — Google, Yahoo and Microsoft— on Thursday for allowing content on pre-natal sex determination in violation of Indian laws and directed them to put in place in-house mechanism to monitor and ensure that such material is not available to the people who use these search engines.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and R Banumathi asked the companies to take appropriate steps to withdraw advertisements and information which violated the Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act.
It also asked the Centre to constitute a nodal agency for people to lodge complaints against the search engines in case of violation of the law. "It seems that they do not have respect for Indian laws. How can they float information in violation of law. You are making money here and you cannot violate law of the country and you have to comply by developing software to block information which violate law," the bench said.
"We reiterate our directions dated September 19, 2016 and further add that respondents Google India Pvt Ltd, Yahoo India and Microsoft Corporation (I) Pvt Ltd shall appoint an in-house expert body which shall take steps if any words or key words that is shown on internet and which has the potential to go counter to section 22 of PCPNDT Act, 1994," it said and asked for immediate deletion of such words.
Section 22 of the Act says that no person or organisation shall issue, publish, distribute, communicate or advertise in any form, including internet, regarding facilities of pre-natal determination of sex or sex selection. The provision makes publication of such advertisements an offence punishable by up to a 3-year jail term and fine which may extend to Rs 10,000. Lawyers appearing for the search engines contended that they were not allowing any advertisements in violation of the Act. Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Google India, said it would not put its global reputation at stake by breaching the law.

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