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Delhi High Court impleads Google in case to assist in making offensive content ‘un-searchable’

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The Delhi High Court has impleaded Google LLC, USA in a plea seeking a direction for the removal of offensive content uploaded over the internet as the bench sought assistance from Google on the overall issue of the removal of offensive content from the internet, being the most widely used search engine.

The single-judge bench of Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani noted,

“It transpires that one possible methodology to make a direction issued by a court to remove offensive content effective, would be to make the offensive content ‘un-searchable’. Such methodology would, of course, be in addition to a direction for removing or effacing such content from the World Wide Web, to the extent technologically possible.”

The petition has been filed by a law student from Bangalore, who complained that the pictures she posted on Instagram and Facebook have been mischievously and illegally lifted and placed by two respondents on a pornographic website, along with derogatory captions.

However, the bench considering the larger issue of removing offensive content in a hearing of August 7 raised several queries including that in a matter such as this, where a petitioner seeks that offending or illegal content be removed from the world wide web:

(i) what directions are required to be passed by a court and to which parties; and

(ii) what steps are required to be taken by law enforcement agencies, so as to make a court order effective, workable and implementable, so that despite court orders offending content does not remain available on the world wide web at the instance of wrong-doers; and errant parties do not succeed in brazenly evading compliance of such orders, with impunity.

Advocate Mamta R. Jha, appearing for Google on an earlier hearing, had submitted that since no relief was claimed or made out against Google LLC, the said entity should not be made a party-respondent in the matter; but that Google LLC was, at the same time, ready and willing to assist this court on larger issues that have arisen in the matter.

In addition to which the bench on January 22 directed Google to assist stating,

“In the course of proceedings over the last several hearings however, it transpires that one possible methodology to make a direction issued by a court to remove offence content effective, would be to make the offensive content ‘un-searchable’. Such methodology would, of course, be in addition to a direction for removing or effacing such content from the World Wide Web, to the extent technologically possible.”

Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya appearing for Google has sought time to make detailed submissions in the matter.

The bench has listed the matter for submissions on behalf of Google on February 4. Read the order here;

Also Read: Farmers not terrorists: Plea filed in Supreme Court against Sambit Patra, ABP News for slur

JUSTICE-ANUP-JAIRAM-BHAMBHANI

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