Filter content or face blackout, court warns Facebook, Google

New Delhi, Jan 12 (IANS) Like in China, Facebook and Google India's websites can be blocked if they fail to come up with a mechanism to check and remove derogatory contents from their web pages, the Delhi High Court warned Thursday.

"Like China, we will block all such websites," Justice Suresh Kait said, after Facebook and Google India said that it was impossible to control the derogatory contents uploaded on their websites.

Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for Facebook India, said: "It is impossible to control the contents with billions of people accessing the site. A third party who uploads the content is not touched and we are sought to be liable in the case."

"Facebook India is not the controller of Facebook.com, it is Facebook.com which removes the content not me," he added.

Mukul Rohtagi, counsel for Google India, said: "Google India is an Indian company and service provider is Google Inc., which is an American company. A person can make complaints to the service provider to remove derogatory contents not me."

Google in its petition said that it had been appointed as a distributor of Google Inc's Adwords programme in India on a principal-to-principal basis.

"Google has not been appointed as an agent, partner or franchise of Google Inc. In its capacity as a distributor, the petitioner engages in business development and promotional activities for certain limited products that include Google search, Youtube and Orkut," Rohtagi added.

He admitted that some articles were obscene but said the company could not control that. He said: "People like crazy, obscene and defamatory articles, we cannot control people's mind."

Neeraj Kishan Kaul for Google India said that the company was not liable as someone else posted the derogatory contents.

The High Court Wednesday issued notices to the Delhi Police and Vinay Rai who had filed the petition in the trial court against the websites alleging they were hosting obscene and derogatory content.

The move came as Facebook and Google approached the high court challenging a trial court's order.

The trial court had observed that the material submitted by the complainant contained obscene pictures and derogatory articles pertaining to various Hindu deities, Prophet Mohammad and Jesus Christ.

The trial court had also directed the central government to take immediate and appropriate steps on the objectionable content on the sites and file its report by Jan 13. The case would be heard next Jan 16.