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INDIAN GOVERNMENT TAKES STAND AGAINST IT GIANTS

IT IS SENSITIVE ABOUT POSTINGS ON SITES.

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India’s government has authorised the prosecution of 21 internet firms, including Facebook, Yahoo! and Google, in a case over obscene content posted online, sources say.

The approval could lead to company directors being called to a trial court in New Delhi to answer serious charges such as fomenting religious hatred and spreading social discord, an official and a lawyer said.

A criminal case against the web titans was first filed in a lower court by local journalist Vinay Rai, who complained that the sites were responsible for obscene and offensive material posted by users.

He also claimed they had broken laws designed to maintain religious harmony and “national integration” in India.

Rai’s lawyer, Sashi Prakash Tripathi, said: “We had applied for the government’s sanction and the ministry of communication and IT has filed it directly in the metropolitan magistrate’s court.”

The companies targeted have filed a petition in the Delhi High Court seeking to have the lower court’s case against them stayed. The hearing of the petition is to resume on Monday.

The lower court yesterday ordered that summons be served on the 10 foreign-based companies, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and YouTube.

The government’s sanction to prosecute represents an escalation of a recent tussle between social networks and the government.

Communications Minister Kapil Sibal last month pledged a crackdown on “unacceptable” online content and urged social networks to exert more control over their platforms.

He provided examples of religiously-sensitive images and obscene photoshopped pictures of Indian politicians.

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

The companies will now hope the High Court stays the prosecution, but they received some hostile comments from a presiding judge.

“You must have a stringent check. Otherwise, like in China, we may pass orders banning all such websites,” the Delhi High Court said.

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

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

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