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No proper case against us, say Facebook, others

Facebook India, Yahoo India and Microsoft India, accused of hosting objectionable content threatening communal harmony, told a civil court here on Monday that a proper case had not been made out against them.

The court had directed 21 social networking websites to remove the content and submit compliance reports. The websites had also objected to their being made parties to the suit.

However, Google India told the court that it had begun removing some content. Among the websites, Facebook India, Google India and Yahoo India filed affidavits.

Administrative Civil Judge Praveen Singh directed that statements be filed within 15 days, by February 21, while listing the matter to March 1. The court rejected the respondents' plea to give them more time to file replies.

Websites object to their being made parties to suit

Facebook India, Yahoo India and Microsoft India on Monday objected to their being made parties to the suit which accused them of hosting objectionable content threatening communal harmony. A civil court had directed 21 social networking websites to remove the content and submit compliance reports.

“Upon perusal of the contents of the compact disc, Facebook India Online Services finds that the images and videos do not contain the URL to indicate that the source of the downloaded material is facebook.com. Moreover, Facebook India Online Services does not control or operate the servers that host the website available at facebook.com which are located in the United States,” Facebook said in its affidavit.

Facebook also filed an application seeking its removal from the list of arraigned respondents. “The contents of the suit are wrong and that it [Facebook] is neither a necessary nor a proper party to it,” Facebook said.

On Google India pointing out to the court that it had removed certain web pages even without being supplied the complete list of objectionable content, the court directed Santosh Pandey, counsel for complainant Mufti Aijaz Arshad Qasmi, to provide hard copies of all the web pages listed in the complaint to respondents to help them mount a proper defence.

In December, Administrative Civil Judge Mukesh Kumar directed 22 social networking websites to file compliance reports on February 6 and appear for hearing on February 21.

Yahoo India objected to being lumped with social networking websites and said the plaintiff had not shown in his complaint that the objectionable content was present on its website. “Yahoo India is primarily a content portal offering e-mail and messenger communication services but not offering features generally associated with social networking websites. So, to that extent the website of Yahoo India cannot be regarded as a social networking website … the plaintiff has nowhere averred that any such alleged offensive material was present or hosted by it or has annexed any documents to show that any offensive material was present on its website.”

Microsoft India also said the plaintiff had not brought any allegations against it and that “no cause for action” was made against it.

Another court here had on January 13 issued summons to 21 websites for hosting objectionable content, after receiving sanction from the Department of Information Technology of the Union government.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2020 6:48:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/no-proper-case-against-us-say-facebook-others/article2865206.ece

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