The Supreme Court on Thursday search engines Google, Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing to set up in-house mechanism to monitor and weed out content on pre-natal sex determination on the websites. The tech giants were asked to take down all advertisements and information that would show up on search results, in violation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, The Times of India reported.
“You are making money here and you cannot violate the law of the country, and you have to comply by developing software to block information which violate law,” the bench of justices Dipak Misra and R Banumathi said, calling for an in-house expert panel to take steps to delete keywords that would show results in violation of the PCPNDT Act.
Counsels for the three tech majors argued that the firms did not allow any ads that breached Indian law, but warned that the directive to filter information with such a mechanism would open a pandora’s box. Free speech activists believe such a court order is aking to allowing censorship by private parties.
“We have always been compliant and are supportive of removing paid content based on terms linked to gender selection tests,” Google said in a statement. “We have taken additional action to disable auto-complete predictions for relevant terms on our site and show a warning that tells users pre-natal gender screening or testing is illegal in India,” Mint reported.
Moreover, the top court also directed the Centre to set up a nodal agency where people can file complaints against Google, Yahoo and Microsoft if they find such violations by the search engines. The body will have the authority to take action on any TV, radio and print advertisements on sex selection.
The order is in reference to section 22 of the law, which prohibits the individuals and organisations from issuing, distributing, publishing, communicating or advertising content on pre-natal sex determination in any form. The punishable offence comes with a 3-year jail term and fine of up to Rs 10,000.