Supreme Court of India directs Google,Yahoo, Microsoft to block sex determination ads

NEW DELHI(PTI): Supreme Court on Wednesday directed search engines like Google India, Yahoo India and Microsoft Corporation (I) Pvt Ltd to strictly comply with Indian laws and block advertisements on sex determination of a foetus.

If any advertisement existed on any search engine, these should be “withdrawn forthwith” by the search engines, the apex court said categorically.

The court also directed the search engines to upload on their policy page and the terms of service page its order that they would not advertise or sponsor any advertisement which violated Section 22 of Prohibition of advertisement relating to pre-natal determination of sex (PC-PNDT) Act. “As an interim measure, it is directed, the respondents, namely, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft shall not advertise or sponsor any advertisement which would violate Section 22 of the PC-PNDT Act, 1994,” a bench of justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant said.

If any advertisement existed on any search engine, “the same shall be withdrawn forthwith by the respondents,” it said. The order was passed after Google and Microsoft argued that they were not advertising anything which violated the PC-PNDT Act or any Indian law. They also said it was not clear from the government’s affidavit the nature of information sought as it has only stated that the search engines should be asked to provide or submit details of measures adopted by them to block or filter keywords and sponsored links violative of PC-PNDT Act and amendments.

The apex court said matters relating to complete blocking of the items suggested by the government and providing the URL and IP addresses by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft would be taken up on February 11. It also took on record an additional affidavit filed by Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, who said the government could only block or filter the information once the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) was known or provided. Therefore, the exact URL needed to be provided by the concerned agencies for blocking or filtering at the Internet Gateways, he said.