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Man wrongly detained for 50 days has ISP to thank

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Police in India wrongfully arrested and detained a Bangalore man for 50 days after internet service provider Airtel mis-identified him as the person who posted images on Orkut that insulted a revered historical figure.

Lakshmana Kailash K., a 26-year-old techie, was arrested at his home on August 31 and transported to Pune, more than 10 hours away, according to news reports. He was held for 50 days and was released three weeks after police claimed to have apprehended the real people responsible for the posting.

Lakshmana's saga started after someone posted unflattering images of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, who lived in the 17th Century and is credited by many as the founder of the Maratha empire in Western India. According to this post, authorities got the poster's IP address of from Google and then paid a visit to Airtel to find out who it belonged to. Airtel fingered Lakshmana.

Google has said repeatedly it has no option but to cooperate with official law enforcement inquiries - such as this case. Indian police are saying it's not their fault for wrongly detaining a man for 50 days. And an Airtel representative was quoted saying the company is "distressed by the severe inconvenience" caused to their customer.

Translation: if you live in a country where freedom of speech is not protected, you can be imprisoned for weeks at a time for no other reason than you use the net. Sure, Google and your ISP may feel bad about your plight, but they certainly won't be standing behind you. ®

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