India threatens to ‘do a China’ and block Google, Facebook over content

India threatens to ‘do a China’ and block Google, Facebook over content

India’s high court has today threatened to block Google, Facebook and other Internet firms unless they put a system in place to prevent offensive content from being published to the Web.

An NDTV report quotes Justice Suresh Kait as warning the firms that “like China, we will block all such websites [containing objectionable material]” unless they agree to introduce new measures.

The comments come after Google and Facebook turned to the country’s high court in response to a private criminal investigation being processed in a Delhi court. This case follows another court order against the duo for allowing users to post images that are alleged to degrade religious symbols in the country.

In response to requests for a real-time filtering system to weed out the offensive content before it is published, which were originally started by comments from acting telecom minister Kapil Sibal, Google India’s legal representative claimed that “no human interference is possible and, moreover, it can’t be feasible to check such incidents”.

Sibal, who is a lawyer by profession, had claimed that a new system is required to handle the issue as India’s legal system is not suitably empowered to do so. Nonetheless a private lawsuit — reportedly submitted by a member of the public — is under way with Facebook and Google both accused of circulating “obscene, lascivious content”under three sections of the Indian penal code.

Previously, Sibal suggested that the Indian government would work with Internet firms directly to solve the issue — after Google and Facebook both claimed that their existing content management system were adequate enough — but it remains how this will develop with both Facebook and Google continually opposing the requests. We’ll soon know more as the next hearing is scheduled for January 16.

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