Monthly Archives: May 2014

Right To Be Forgotten And Google Censorship Issues: India Needs To Be Stern And Courageous In This Regard

PRAVEEN DALAL MANAGING PARTNER OF PERRY4LAW AND CEO OF PTLBGoogle is world’s top rated search engine where a majority of Internet surfers prefer to search for answers to their questions. This gives Google tremendous power over crucial and sensitive information of many users that can be correlated and corroborate with ease. Of course, this dominant position of Google is not free from anti competition and data protection legal requirements.

In a landmark judgement, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has held that Google must ensure Right to Be Forgotten to its users. This is in continuation of European Union’s earlier efforts to strengthen privacy rights and data protection amid global e-surveillance practices. Now Right to Be Forgotten can be enforced against Google in Europe. In fact, takedown requests have already been made to Google and companies like Yahoo, Microsoft, etc are also exploring various legal possibilities in this regard.

Google can already be approached for removal of objectionable contents as per the laws of United States. However, this is a problematic solution as Google refuses to obey laws of other countries, including India. While Indian government is taking Google lightly yet many individuals have dragged Google to Indian Courts on numerous occasions. Google is presently fighting an online defamation case at Supreme Court of India. Nevertheless the attitude of Google vis-à-vis compliance with Indian laws is more on the side of defiance than compliance.

On many occasions results in general search and news disappears and Google never gives any explanation in this regard. Blogs and web resources are frequently demoted and removed from search results all of a sudden. There is no explanation whatsoever from Google regarding these activities and this must be regulated in various jurisdictions, including India.

Indian government itself has created an endemic e-surveillance model for its own unconstitutional purposes. India is one of the countries that do not believe in civil liberties protection in cyberspace at all.

India’s own Projects like Aadhar, National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Central Monitoring System (CMS), Centre for Communication Security Research and Monitoring (CCSRM), Internet Spy System Network And Traffic Analysis System (NETRA) of India, etc are violative of Civil Liberties Protection in Cyberspace. None of them are governed by any Legal Framework and none of them are under Parliamentary Scrutiny.

Whether Google admits it or not Google is actively engaging in censorship in India for meeting Indian government’s demands and to protect its own commercial interests. Many media reports have also alleged that Google allows backdoor to U.S. intelligence and security agencies for enabling them to conduct e-surveillance and eavesdropping. Although Google denies these allegations yet there is much substance in the allegations of backdoor support and mere denial on the part of Google would not be sufficient to eliminate the suspicion. Similarly, Google also needs to explain about censorship of search results and news items from its results.

The present Indian government has adopted a very soft approach towards Google and other foreign companies that are playing with Indian laws. Whether it is e-commerce compliances in India or cyber law compliances, companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc must be forced to obey Indian laws. A strong government alone can enforce this much needed requirement.

The ECJ has shown its metal and it is now for Indian Courts to do the same. For instance, the e-mail policy of India needs to be urgently implemented in India. E-mail service providers like G-mail are abetting and encouraging commission of cyber crimes as well. E-mail service providers like G-Mail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc are also facilitating violating the provisions of Public Records Act, 1993 wherever public records are involved. The sooner Indian Courts deal with companies like Google stringently the better it would be for the Civil Liberties of Indian Citizens.