SC Asks Search En­gines to Check Info on Gen­der Se­lec­tion Kits

The Economic Times - - Economy: Macro, Micro & More - Sa­man­waya.Rau­tray @times­group.com

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thurs­day di­rected com­pa­nies such as Google, Ya­hoo! and Mi­crosoft to set up mech­a­nisms to ad­dress com­plaints about con­tent on gen­der se­lec­tion kits thrown up by their in­ter net search en­gines. Such kits and ads are banned in In­dia and pro­mot­ing those is an of­fence. A bench com­pris­ing Jus­tices Di­pak Misra and R Banu­mathi passed the or­der de­spite op­po­si­tion from the com­pa­nies, which claimed that they would be flooded with com­plaints and con­se­quen­tial lit­i­ga­tion. The in-house mech­a­nisms that the com­pa­nies need to build are in ad­di­tion to a nodal agency that the court in last Novem­ber or­dered the cen­tral gov­ern­ment to set up to deal with such ads and kits avail­able on­line.

“You can’t vi­o­late laws of the coun­try. You must be re­spon­sive to In­dian law,” the bench said, act­ing on a pub­lic in­ter­est lit­i­ga­tion which blamed gen­der se­lec­tion tests for fall­ing sex ra­tio in the coun­try.

The search en­gines ar­gued that they were not vi­o­lat­ing In­dian law and that they car­ried warn­ings in In­dia that such searches were il­le­gal un­der lo­cal law. They also ar­gued that they au­to­mat­i­cally blocked words which in­volve the rel­e­vant terms. How­ever, they have op­posed any court at­tempt to get them to block all pos­si­ble per­mu­ta­tions and com­bi­na­tions of words which could be in­volved in any pos­si­ble search on the ground that it was tech­ni­cally im­pos­si­ble. It would also have the un­fore­seen side-ef­fect of block­ing all other in­nocu­ous or in­for­ma­tive in­for­ma­tion be­ing sought about other sub­jects in­volv­ing the same words, they ar­gued. The court turned down their plea that such a sweep­ing ban would ham­per gen­uine re­search and also ac­cess to any in­for­ma­tion.

Search en­gines such as Google, Ya­hoo! & Mi­crosoft ar­gued that they car­ried warn­ings in In­dia

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