Facebook, Google Caught Up In Indian Courts

By David Cohen 

A criminal case in India involving Facebook and Google is tangled up in that country’s court system, as the Delhi High Court adjourned a petition for dismissal by the two Internet companies until Aug. 7, despite the trial’s scheduled start date in the lower Patiala House Court May 23.

The Wall Street Journal reported the decision by the Delhi High Court, adding that High Court Judge Suresh Kait said Facebook and Google executives are not required to appear. Local journalist Vinay spearheaded the case.

According to the Journal, an information technology law passed in 2008 requires Internet companies to remove “ethnically objectionable,” “grossly harmful,” “defamatory,” or “blasphemous” content within 36 hours.

The government of India requested last December that Facebook and other social networks delete “disparaging, inflammatory, or defamatory” content before it goes live, which is clearly not technically feasible, with Facebook’s user base in the country totaling more than 43 million.

Then in January, the Delhi High Court threatened to block websites, including Facebook and Google, if “offensive and objectionable” content was not removed.

Facebook spokeswoman Debbie Frost said in an email to the Journal that the social network is devoted to “making the world more open and connected,” but “abusive” content will not be tolerated, adding:

We will remove all content from Facebook that violates our terms of use and abuse standards. If a piece of content is not in violation of our terms, but is illegal in a certain country, we will restrict access to it for users in that country.

However, no amount of wrangling in the courts will result in a technically and logistically feasible way to monitor the Facebook activity of more than 43 million users in India, or more than 900 million globally.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.