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India Censures Facebook and Google

Updated on March 13, 2012

I expected the Internet to be censured by China, Russia, Syria, and a host of other countries, but as an American, I was surprised that India, one of Asia's largest democracy, did also. Both Facebook and Google are battling the Indian government in New Delhi about its content on their Internet sites that 46 million Indians flock to. If India wins, both companies could get a hefty fine and its execs tossed in jail. Google expects their numbers will increase to 300 million by 2014.

In the New Delhi court, the complaint filed against the American companies claim that the companies seek to create enmity, hatred and violence which will corrupt minds. It rambles on stating that the sites have obscene content and material that depicts Hindu, Muslim and Christian figures in mocking or offensive manner. Many there feel this is an assault on free speech, which Indians value. Both companies defense is that India's own Internet law protects them about what their users post and that if the Court rules that they must monitor activities of users, that would be an impossibility now and in the future. The complaint filed by a conservative group, did not point to specific evidence found, just a broad, general statement. Both companies want the High Court there to toss the case out when it hears it in May.

Indian Internet law requires FB or Google (and others) to remove, within 36 hrs, any blasphemy, ethnic disparagement (pigs running through Mecca) or threatening public order (negative comments about government officials or making fun of them in images).

Last year, Google did remove 358 items flagged by Indian censures with less than 20 hrs. last year. Both Yahoo and Microsoft were also originally named in the civil complaint, but have since been removed when the petitioner could not prove what either had done. Many in India fear that if the government wins the case, Internet social sites, which are the most popular there, will suffer greatly because FB and Google will leave.


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