Facebook, Others Summoned To Appear Before Indian Trial Court Sept. 22

By David Cohen 

A criminal case in India involving Facebook and several other Internet companies moved one step further, as executives from the involved firms were summoned to appear before a trial court in the country Sept. 22, but a petition for dismissal before the Delhi High Court is set to be heard Aug. 7.

The case is the result of a complaint by Indian journalist Vinay Rai, and it is based on an Indian law that requires Internet companies to remove within 36 hours any material that is deemed “ethnically objectionable, grossly harmful, defamatory, or blasphemous.”

Facebook’s fellow defendants in the case, according to Dow Jones, are: Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and three Google-owned entities — YouTube, Orkut, and Blogspot.

Metropolitan Magistrate Jay Thareja, who is hearing the case, issued the summons to the executives through the country’s Ministry of Home Affairs, according to Dow Jones, and they will then be passed on to appropriate government agencies in the U.S., which will deliver them to the companies.

Facebook and the other online services said in March that when they’re notified of specific things that offend, then removing them is the companies’ responsibility. However, they can’t be held liable for content posted by users and can’t monitor everything that gets posted.

And last month, Facebook spokeswoman Debbie Frost said in an email to The Wall Street 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, as we pointed out in May, no amount of wrangling in the courts will result in a technically and logistically feasible way to monitor the Facebook activity of more than 46 million users in India, or more than 900 million globally.

Readers: Do you think this case in India will continue to proceed, or will logic ultimately prevail and result in a compromise?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.