Social websites including Google and Facebook have been ordered by an Indian court to remove all ‘anti-religious’ and ‘anti-social’ content within six weeks.
On Saturday a Delhi Court ordered 22 social networking sites, including Yahoo and Microsoft, to wipe the objectionable and defamatory contents and file compliance reports by February 6, 2012.
Additional Civil Judge Mukesh Kumar passed the order on a suit filed by Mufti Aijaz Arshad Qasmi seeking to restrain the websites from circulating objectionable and defamatory contents.
Qasmi had objected to a number of images on the websites which he complained would cause ‘irreparable loss and injury to the people who are offended by them’.
He argued that some of the images defamed Hindu gods, Prophet Mohammed and other religious figures, India Today website reported.
The order will raise serious questions about how users’ posts and opinions will be edited, censorship and freedom of expression.
On December 22 Judge Kumar had issued summonses to the social networking sites, demanding they remove photographs, videos or texts that might offend religious sentiments, the Hindustan Times website reported.
The order comes a day after a criminal court issued summonses to the sites for facing trial for allegedly webcasting objectionable contents.
Santosh Pandey, appearing for complainant Mufti Aijaz Arshad Qasmi, told The Hindu Times after the court hearing that the websites have to submit a report to the court by February 6 describing the action they had taken to remove the contents from the websites.
Representatives of Yahoo India Pvt Ltd and Microsoft told the court that they had not got copies of the order and complaint against them, but Qasmi’s counsel told the court that he would supply the relevant documents to them, according to the Hindustan Times.
The order comes at a controversial time as IT minister Kapil Sibal had recently discussed with representatives of some of the companies ways to guarantee the offensive contents are not posted.
India Today quoted him as saying: ‘There were some demeaning, degrading, clearly pornographic depictions of gods and goddesses which no reasonable, sensible person anywhere in the world would accept, on any site.
The minister insisted he was not smothering free speech but was suggesting screening possible ‘incendiary’ material.
The Hindu Times reported Facebook India, Facebook, Google India Pvt Ltd, Google Orkut, Youtube, Blogspot, Microsoft India Pvt Ltd, Microsoft, Zombie Time, Exboii, Boardreader, IMC India, My Lot, Shyni Blog and Topix were all given the order.
A Google spokesperson told the website: ‘We comply with valid court orders wherever possible, consistent with our long standing policy.
‘We’re yet to receive the details of this order and can’t comment on this specific case.’
(yourjewishnews.com / 15.01.2012)