internet laws

SC tells Centre’s agency to meet internet giants, remove online ads on sex determination

Those convicted of creating or distributing such ads could face a three-year jail term and be fined up to Rs 10,000.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday told a nodal agency set up by the Centre to convene a meeting with internet giants Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, and other stakeholders within six weeks to remove objectionable content pertaining to sex determination tests from online search engines, ANI reported.

The agency was set up in September to redress complaints seeking the deletion of materials that violate Indian laws prohibiting pre-natal sex determination from search engines and websites.

In April, the court had asked Google, Yahoo and Microsoft to ban all advertisements for sex determination tests. However, the court also observed that while there should be a restriction on such advertisements, a general ban on all online content pertaining to sex determination was dangerous and would amount to curtailing a person’s fundamental right to know.

In February, the court had asked search engines like Google and Yahoo to implement mechanisms to identify and block content relating to pre-natal sex determination. The companies had opposed the directive and free speech activists have also pointed out that it could lead to censorship of content on the Internet by private parties.

The court was deliberating on a public interest litigation by activist Sabu George seeking a complete ban on all online searches related to pre-natal sex determination on the grounds that such tests are illegal under Indian law.

Section 22 of the Pre-Conception Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, of 1994, prohibits 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 three-year jail term and a fine of up to Rs 10,000.

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