Google Inc. has removed some controversial content from its Indian services to be obedient to a court order in a civil lawsuit. This is the latest twist that has taken place in the legal drama over internet censorship in India. The content was removed from its search sites, YouTube and Blogger, after receiving an order from a New Delhi District Court.
The objectionable content includes images of religious figures and this has been removed only on Google’s local web domain in India and the content is accessible elsewhere. Google has taken this step in accordance with its policy of adhering to court orders. The same District Court has also issued directions to Yahoo and Facebook to remove offensive content from their sites. The District Court Judge’s orders came about in response to a civil suit filed against various internet companies by a private Indian citizen, Aijaz Arshad Qasmi.
The suit had alleged that the internet companies hosted objectionable content that represented intolerance of religious communities and could have been responsible for communal unrest in India.
Internet companies are facing these kinds of challenges in India. Many such civil lawsuits have been filed in India against Google and Facebook. An example is the one recently filed by a journalist, Vinay Rai. That case will come up for hearing on 14th February.
Many free speech supporters are expressing concern over the lawsuits and recent action by the Indian government. In India particularly, government officials have resorted to invoke laws against inciting animosity between religious communities as reasons for moving to censor politically or religiously sensitive content.