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India's apex court questions Google, Facebook, WhatsApp on content complaints

Sep 06. 2017
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By The Statesman/ANN

NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court has directed the internet search engines and social networking sites to clarify on objectionable content.

The Supreme Court has directed Internet search engines Google, Yahoo and social networking sites Facebook and WhatsApp to furnish details of complaints they have received in India about the uploading of objectionable contents on child pornography, rape and gangrape.

The apex court asked them to provide such details they received last year and this year till 31 August and also about the action taken by them on such complaints. A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit directed the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to apprise it about the number of prosecutions under the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) 2012, during this period.

We would like the participating companies Google, Google India, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook and WhatsApp to place affidavits regarding number of complaints they have received from India about the objectionable contents concerning child pornography, rape and gangrape for the year and till 31 August and the action that has been taken on it,” the bench said.

The court was hearing a letter sent to then Chief Justice of India H L Dattu by Hyderabad-based NGO Prajwala, along with two rape videos in a pen drive. The apex court had taken suo moto cognisance of the letter about posting of these videos on WhatsApp and asked CBI to launch a probe to apprehend the culprits.

Earlier, cyber-security officials, who function under the CBI, had told the bench that the Internet was a “wild highway” and blocking objectionable content at the source was a technical challenge for which clear guidelines needed to be issued to stop circulation of such material.

The Centre had informed the court that it would set up a specialised agency to block and curb the sharing of sexual offence videos on social networking platforms.

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