Indian Citizen Pursuing Lawsuit Against Companies that Host 'Offensive Content'


20 companies including Google, Facebook and Yahoo have been sued for hosting offensive material online in India.

The lawsuit comes after Indian government officials have publicly discouraged any material that may offend either politicians or Muslims. However, the Indian government has stopped short of using the word “censorship.” Instead, Telecoms Minister Kapil Sibal claims that the Web has to follow the same rules as members of the press. “We do believe that all media must obey the laws of this country.”

Yahoo has applied to be dismissed from the lawsuit, claiming that it offers no social media functionality and should therefore be exempt. A Yahoo spokesperson decried the lawsuit as a “complete abuse of the process of law.” The suit was brought by Vinay Rai, the editor of Akbari, which is the largest weekly newspaper in India. The suit against the companies, which was filed in a lower court, objects to allegedly offensive images of Gods and Goddesses being posted online.

Google’s lawyer, NK Kaul, wondered aloud in court why India’s government has become involved in the case. “We are curious as to why the Union of India has become a party to a case between private parties,” Kaul commented before a packed courtroom. “It might be a case of malafide intention, which we leave to the judgment of the Honorable Court.”

Indian law requires parties to remove offensive content within 36 hours of being notified by the government. Representatives from Google and Facebook supposedly sat down with government representatives and were personally told that the content had to be deleted. Naveen Sharma, the senior counsel for the state of Delhi, noted that the content negatively portrayed many Indian people and their religious beliefs. “The government has all rights to intervene. The government called the representatives of these Internet companies in October 2011, and asked them to remove the content. But they did not comply.”

India has the third largest Internet user base in the world. The lawsuit may have far reaching consequences for a country that thrives on user-generated content. Thus far, Google has pulled some content from their search services, YouTube and Blogger in compliance with a court order issued in early February. Facebook and Yahoo declined to comment on the court order.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

Contributing Writer

Related Articles

Coding and Invention Made Fun

By: Special Guest    10/12/2018

SAM is a series of kits that integrates hardware and software with the Internet. Combining wireless building blocks composed of sensors and actors con…

Read More

Facebook Marketplace Now Leverages AI

By: Paula Bernier    10/3/2018

Artificial intelligence is changing the way businesses interact with customers. Facebook's announcement this week is just another example of how this …

Read More

Oct. 17 Webinar to Address Apache Spark Benefits, Tools

By: Paula Bernier    10/2/2018

In the upcoming webinar "Apache Spark: The New Enterprise Backbone for ETL, Batch and Real-time Streaming," industry experts will offer details on clo…

Read More

It's Black and White: Cybercriminals Are Spending 10x More Than Enterprises to Control, Disrupt and Steal

By: Cynthia S. Artin    9/26/2018

In a stunning new report by Carbon Black, "Hacking, Escalating Attacks and The Role of Threat Hunting" the company revealed that 92% of UK companies s…

Read More

6 Challenges of 5G, and the 9 Pillars of Assurance Strategy

By: Special Guest    9/17/2018

To make 5G possible, everything will change. The 5G network will involve new antennas and chipsets, new architectures, new KPIs, new vendors, cloud di…

Read More