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Google and Facebook remove 'offensive' content from Indian sites

Internet firms comply with court order

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Facebook and Google have removed content from Indian domain websites in response to a court order to get rid of "objectionable content".

The Indian subsidiaries of the internet firms were in court in New Delhi on Monday in a civil suit against the firms, and other web giants, brought by Muslim petitioner Mufti Aijaz Arshad Qasmi.

Both Facebook India and Google India said that they had removed material from their Indian sites that was deemed offensive to Muslims, Hindus and Christians.

"The review team has looked at the content and disabled this content from the local domains of search, YouTube and Blogger," Google spokeswoman Paroma Chaudhry told Reuters.

The court gave all the 21 websites listed in the suit 15 days to submit reports on their efforts to block offensive content on their sites.

Microsoft said it had "filed an application for rejection of the suit on the grounds that it disclosed no cause of action against Microsoft".

Google, Facebook, Microsoft and others have already lost a claim in the Delhi High Court on the same issue.

The claims were brought after India passed a controversial law last year that makes web firms responsible for the content their users post. If there are complaints, the company has just 36 hours to remove the offending material.

The internet firms have argued that it's not possible for them to block content and Google, Facebook, Yahoo! and Microsoft are appealing the High Court's decision.

Journalist Vinay Rai, the Hindu petitioner who brought the High Court case, said that if the companies can remove the content, they should be able to do it all the time instead of waiting for a court case to force them to do so.

Critics of the new law allege that its enforcement is tantamount to censorship, but India's minister of communications and information technology Kapil Sabil insists that the country's web users need their "sensibilities" protected.

The High Court has warned that if internet companies can't come up with a way to get rid of objectionable content, the country "like in China, may pass orders banning all such websites".

The Register contacted Google, Facebook and Microsoft for comment, but had received no replies at the time of publication. ®

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