Technology available to block search ads: Centre

Updated - November 17, 2021 02:12 am IST

Published - January 14, 2015 01:48 am IST - NEW DELHI:

An affidavit filed by the Cyber Law Division of the Union Communications and Information Technology Ministry before the Supreme Court on January 8 said the search engines did “have the relevant technology and deep-domain knowledge and expertise to block and/or filter words, phrases, expressions and sponsored links which are in violation of the PC-PNDT Act and amendments thereof.”

It said Google, Yahoo and Bing, which is run by Microsoft, should be directed to submit the commercial and monetary gains made by them by providing such URLs and sponsored advertisements and links on the same webpage showing keywords and search results.

The additional response is based on a public interest litigation petition filed by Sabu Mathew George in 2008 highlighting the use of the Internet and search engines to promote sex determination technologies in violation of the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act.

Under the 2000 Act, an “intermediary” (search engine) is protected from being held liable for any third party information, data or communication link. But this protection depends on the “due diligence” on the part of the search engine to remove or disable “expeditiously” access to a material used to commit an unlawful act.

The affidavit further wanted the court to direct the petitioners to produce a list of URLs and sponsored links violating the PC-PNDT Act in order to block or filter them.

A 2010 affidavit, however, expressly advised against blocking websites featuring pre-natal sex determination advertisements, saying it “may not be desirable” as they “provide good content for medical education” too. It reasoned that these online advertisements were meant not just for Indian citizens but for a global audience.

Lawyers of the search engines have been consistently maintaining that they were not violating Indian laws, and were merely “corridors” with no control over the information.

The latest affidavit was filed by Gulshan Rai, Director-General and Group Coordinator with the Department of Electronics and Information Technology at the Ministry.

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