Google, Facebook tell Indian court they have already removed offensive content

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Internet giants Google and Facebook claim they have already taken down the content that saw a civil suit brought against them and 19 other companies in India.

According to TheNextWeb, the case is one of two brought against the internet companies. It was filed by Mufti Aizaz Arshad Kazmi in December, while the second was filed by journalist Vinay Rai.

Both cases come in the wake of complaints from telecommunications Minister Kapil Sibal that online companies were not doing enough to block content he believed Indian users would find offensive. The flames were fanned when Sibal reportedly made a request for real-time censoring.

Representatives from the internet companies argued that this was simply unfeasible. The move also saw ordinary Indians expressing outrage at the proposed measures.

Despite assurances from Sibal that the government was not looking to take a China-like approach, it passed a law late last year that made any company liable for user content posted on its websites, with a minimum take down compliance period of 36 hours.

It is this law that caused Rai to take up his case, arguing that companies such as Facebook, Google, YouTube, Microsoft and Yahoo were hosting content that was offensive to Christians, Muslims and Hindus.

If India is to avoid completely censoring sites like China does — and that certainly seems to be the will of its burgeoning online population — then it’s probably more advisable to work with the companies than against them.

Indian authorities are no stranger to making requests of big tech companies. In 2010 RIM coalesced to the demands of Indian security authorities, allowing them to monitor Blackberry services after the authorities also expressed security concerns.

“We won’t compromise on the security architecture of our corporate emails,” said RIM’s India spokesman, Satchit Gayakwad.

“We respect the requirements of regulatory bodies in terms of security, but we also look at the customer’s need for privacy.”

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