23 December 2011

India Heads of Facebook, Google, Yahoo Land Up in Court

A trial court in New Delhi has issued summons to many internet companies including U.S. based firms such as Facebook, Google, Yahoo and 19 other websites asking them to remove the inflammatory images of some religious figures from their websites.
A trial court in New Delh

The petition had been filed by Mufti Aijaz Arshad Qasmi, Founder of FatwaOnline.org.  Mukesh Kumar, the Administrative Civil Judge has issued summons to the websites asking them to appear before the Rohini Court on December 24. The judge was quoted saying, "Contents which are uploaded by some miscreants through these social media sites are highly unacceptable and are par inflammatory and derogatory which cannot be accepted by any religion."

Youtube, GooglePlus, Orkut and Blogspot which are owned by Google India have also been made party in the suit. Qasmi’s advocate Santosh Pandey said "It's a civil suit we have filed for which a stay order was issued this week. The judge has issued the stay order and issued summons under the order 39 rule 1 and 2 of the Criminal Procedure Code."

Zombie Time has been summoned for carrying caricatures and images of some religious figures. India heads of Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and discussion forums – Topix and Exbii have also been made party by the litigant.

Quasi said "About 22 companies have been made a party to it. We will take the matter politically as such content can cause riots being inflammatory to many religions." He also said that members from various religious communities and a local newspaper are in support of the case and will join them for the protest at Jantar Mantar, if the matter is not resolved in court and if websites don’t pre-screen content as per the government’s direction.

Talks between the government and internet companies – Facebook, Google and Yahoo had failed in the recent past as they had declined to remove contents which were legal yet controversial. The government had plans to draft guidelines in order to remove objectionable content but later denied the regulation of the Internet due to pressure from the general public and allegedly from the U.S. government. Hillary Clinton was in support of internet companies saying ‘regulations on the internet would be disastrous for everybody and stifle conversations and businesses’.