Google, Facebook fight Indian criminal case

Jan 16, 2012
Indian Muslims protest against Facebook in 2010 over caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed that appeared on the social networking site. Facebook and Google on Monday fought in the Delhi High Court to quash criminal charges that they are responsible for obscene online content and fomenting religious hatred

Google and Facebook on Monday fought in the Delhi High Court to quash criminal charges that they are responsible for obscene online content.

The companies, which are set to be joined in their action by Microsoft and Yahoo!, have filed petitions asking for a lower court case brought by a local journalist against 21 to be stayed.

On Friday, the Indian government gave its sanction for the firms to be tried for such as fomenting religious hatred and spreading social discord, offences that could land company directors in prison.

Lawyers acting for the search engine and social networking site told Delhi High Court Justice Suresh Kait that they were not responsible for material posted by users on their platforms.

"Search engines such as Google cannot control websites being searched by users," Google-India's lawyer Neraj Kishan Kaul told the packed court.

"(The) summons reflects a complete lack of understanding in how it works," Kaul told the judge, referring to a summons issued to the Internet companies by a lower criminal court on December 23.

Kaul also insisted that Internet companies could not be held responsible for filtering content.

"There are serious constitutional issues of ," the lawyer said.

Facebook India's lawyer Sidharth Luthra said evidence presented against the defendants by the complainant, 39-year-old journalist Vijay Rai, needed to be "tested" before it could be admitted at trial.

Rai has submitted a compact disc of evidence he says was taken from the Internet that risks causing religious strife.

"Unlike search engines, Facebook is a closed group and even as we trying to create a global community we try and respect local laws," Luthra told the judge, adding that has safeguards against abuse and obscenity.

and Facebook's lawyers told the court that they act to remove content deemed to contravene laws in the countries in which they operate.

The government's sanction to prosecute at the weekend represents an escalation of a recent tussle between social networks and government officials, in particular Communications Minister Kapil Sibal.

Sibal last month pledged a crackdown on "unacceptable" online content and urged the social networks to exert more control over the photos, videos and users' comments uploaded on their platforms.

The trial will resume on Thursday.

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User comments : 3

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Deathclock
5 / 5 (1) Jan 16, 2012
Who the fuck does India think they are trying to censor the internet? They can get fucked. Backwards neanderthal bullshit religious moral hygiene laws, it makes me sick.
AngryMoose
not rated yet Jan 17, 2012
All they will succeed in doing is closing themselves off from the Internet, if you try to put company directors in jail you can bet the company will leave.
Pkunk_
not rated yet Jan 17, 2012
The problem in India is its well and dandy to use your freedom of speech to bash any religion except Islam.

Once you start bashing Islam or even attempt to satire the "Prophet" , you are going to get blasted left and centre for being "unsecular".

The government has very strict rules since they know if you whip up the muslims they'll start blowing up stuff like in Nigeria.. So you know all this censorship it's for the "public good" or you'll have muslims running riot all over the country.

And the sad thing is .. they're right.